• Sat
  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 6:26am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2012, 4:26am

HSBC withdraws public transport insurance ad

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.
 

A reader writes to say that when he logged on to the HSBC website, he was dismayed at the advertisement that popped up.

It read: "AccidentSurance - Double indemnity on death or disablement caused by public transport accidents."

He said: "So soon after the awful National Day ferry disaster I think that trying to cash in on people's fears is inappropriate and callous."

So, was HSBC indulging in ambulance chasing? With this thought in mind we approached HSBC. Spokeswoman Laine Santana said the advertisement had been running since September 1 and was one of about a dozen that are on rotation on HSBC's website. The bank withdrew the ad on Monday after we called about it.

It has to be said that this public transport element does not normally feature prominently among HSBC's accident insurance products. Its Hong Kong website includes travel insurance, accident insurance, golfer's insurance, but nothing specific on public transport accidents. But a search on the internet comes up with TravelSurance Plus, offered by HSBC Singapore, which states under the heading of daily hospitalisation allowance, "Receive a lump sum of up to S$250,000 in the event of an accident that results in permanent disability or death. This sum doubles if the accident occurs while travelling on public transportation." So, in this description the public transport element doesn't even warrant a sub-heading in contrast to the prominence this aspect of the policy gets in the ad our reader complained about. The public transport aspect is also mentioned in an AccidentSurance fact sheet supplied to Lai See by HSBC. It is mentioned in the section on frequently asked questions. The ad seems an unfortunate coincidence, but we suppose HSBC must be given the benefit of the doubt.
 

Poor show

Those looking forward to booking some of the world class events coming to Hong Kong courtesy of the Hong Kong Arts Festival were disappointed if they tried to do it online. The festival's booking web page boasts of its "improved online ticketing system", and was due to start accepting bookings on Monday night. However, John Flowerdew, a professor at City University, writes to say that he had tried since midnight on Monday to make a booking. "My best shot was to get to the confirmation stage, only to be denied by 'system error'," he says. In desperation, he phoned the festival organisers and was told the booking system was not working and was e-mailed an advanced booking form. "I am really frustrated and annoyed that I might miss some of the excellent shows they have on offer … as well as wasting a lot of time."
 

Do as you would be done by

Arik Hesseldahl, writing on the website All Things D, has an acute take on the furore surrounding the supposed threat posed by the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei to US national security. The Congress recently released a report saying the company, along with ZTE, should not be allowed to supply equipment to any telecommunications network projects. He writes that while mainland hackers have been among the most active in attacking US networks, the main reason why the US and its allies were concerned about letting Huawei in is because "they know from their own experience how imported electronics can be turned into a weapon of espionage and outright sabotage". He says US and Israeli intelligence agencies used their understanding of Microsoft's Windows operating system combined with their knowledge of industrial control systems to create the Stuxnet worm that damaged the Iranian nuclear research programme. Another intriguing example Hasseldahl refers to is the 2007 Israeli air attack against a suspected nuclear weapons research facility in Syria. He says that reports by the magazine IEEE Spectrum traced reports that a French chip company that supplied the manufacturer of Syrian radar defence equipment included a "kill switch" that enabled the strike to take place undetected. So the US and its allies are well aware of the potential for electronic espionage since they have done it themselves, and not unnaturally feel there is no reason to believe that mainland entities such as Huawei won't also have a go.

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

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