• Tue
  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 11:54am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 5:19am

1823 Call Centre is no ringing endorsement

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.
 

We may have been overly exuberant as to the merits of the government's 1823 Call Centre. We recently heard from a reader who came away less than impressed after complaining to the call centre about undergrowth encroaching on to the pavement near a school, which was used by children from 5 to 11 years old.

After her initial complaint, she was told that "the whatever-government department" must first send an inspection team to the area to determine how much space was dominated by the undergrowth, and how much space was still available for pedestrians to use. Then another team had to decide who was the legitimate owner of that particular stretch of road. If it was private, "the whatever-department" would send a letter to persuade the owner to trim the undergrowth to make way for pedestrians. If the road belonged to the government, then they needed to find out whether it was the responsibility of the Highway Department, the Lands Department, or the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

She says the matter took an entire summer and countless emails before a team of four workers turned up one day and completed the job in two hours. The experience has not endeared her to the 1823 service.
 

Tweet tweet

Just so that you know we're on top of the social media scene, we can reveal that the average Twitter user is a young American woman with an iPhone and 208 followers. This information is gleaned from a recent survey of some 36 million Twitter profiles by Beevolve, a social media monitoring website.

Most Twitter users (53 per cent) are women, and 74 per cent of users are aged 15-25 years, 15 per cent are between 26 and 35 years old and 6 per cent are over 46. Most users are based in the US (51 per cent) followed by Britain with 17 per cent, Australia with 4 per cent, Brazil with 3.4 per cent, Canada with 3 per cent and India with 2.9 per cent. The majority (81 per cent) has less than 50 followers, 6 per cent have 50 to 100 followers, and 6 of every 100 users have no followers. Women send the most tweets, while 25 per cent of users have never tweeted. Fancy that.
 

Fight Nite enters ring again

The appeal of boxing is on the increase if the list of contestants for Hedge Fund Fight Nite is anything to go by. The event is in its sixth year and has attracted a record number of 70 financiers, including 10 women.

These have been whittled down to 14 and they will slug it out in the finals at a black tie dinner in a marquee at the Indian Recreation Club in So Kon Po on October 25. In addition to having a fun night out, there is another objective which is to raise funds for the charities Operation Smile and Operation Breakthrough.

Last year, almost HK$500,000 was raised which was rather less than the HK$1 million raised in 2010. For the second year running there will be a women's bout which will be between Danielle Midalia from Operation Smile, and Andrea Glynn from the Bank of Montreal.
 

Trials of the environment

In what is now a familiar pattern on the mainland, a whistle blower sounds the alert on illegal activity, wins an award for his efforts, and is then subsequently put on trial and jailed by the disgruntled authorities.

Liu Futang, a retired forestry official caused outrage online when he revealed that developers had destroyed one of the world's last groves of water coconut trees to make way for a yacht marina. For his efforts he won the citizen journalism prize at the China Press Environmental Awards in April. The awards are jointly organised by The Guardian, chinadialogue and the Chinese web portal Sina, with funding from the Guardian Foundation and SEE, a Chinese charitable body.

Three months later, the 65-year-old was detained by the authorities while he was being treated for high blood pressure and diabetes at a hospital in southern Hainan province, according to The Guardian, and charged with "conducting illegal business".

This appears to centre on a book he wrote The Tears of Hainan II which was about a coal-fired power station which was built at Yinggehai, which met fierce opposition from residents. Prosecutors say Liu ignored the law by illegally publishing, printing and distributing 18,000 copies of his books, even though they conceded he gave them away. He could face five years in jail.
 

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

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