Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2012, 4:03am

Beware the golf ball racket at the Philippines airport

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.
 

Sympathetic though we may be to the Philippines in the face of the Hong Kong government's absurd and surely racist attitude to the country, the Philippines can be its tourism industry's own worst enemy. A reader writes to say he had entered the country a few days earlier with a bag of golf balls in his hand luggage but found that when he was leaving, the few remaining balls could not be taken on board and had to be surrendered. Remonstrations finally produced a list of banned hand-carry items, and the official pointed to "golf clubs". No sign of balls. Further remonstrations that balls were not clubs yielded … nothing. Attempts to lodge a formal complaint, helped by a very supportive Cathay staff, proved fruitless in the time available. Clearly the security staff have found a way to supplement their incomes: second-hand golf balls.
 

A first for Hong Kong

We see that Hong Kong singer and actress JuJu Chan, together with friends and celebrity artists, is presenting a letter to MTR headquarters today requesting women-only coaches on trains. This follows her experience of being groped as she alighted at Admiralty station last week.

A statement put out by her management company said she was making the public request to the MTR because she wanted to build awareness about sexual harassment and to provide a safer environment for women. It noted that train companies in countries such as Japan and Indonesia had introduced women-only coaches "for preventing perverts from indulging themselves".

While we are fully supportive of her efforts to draw attention to sexual harassment, we are astonished that a star like Chan should actually take the MTR. This must be a Hong Kong first.
 

Selective gatekeeping

Netizens and authors on the mainland have been congratulating Mo Yan for becoming the country's first Nobel literature laureate. But the Nobel Prizes have exercised the mainland's internet censors somewhat. The blog Fei Chang Dao shows that on Baidu and Sina Weibo, searches for "Nobel Peace Prize" and "Liu Xiaobo" - the winner of the prize in 2010, much to the fury of our leaders - were blocked. However, searches for "Nobel Literature Prize" and "Mo Yan" were untouched. Baidu forums on the peace prize were blocked, but literature prize forums were not.
 

What's cool in Hong Kong?

Virgin Atlantic's public relations team has wasted little time in alerting us that Virgin Atlantic has been voted eighth in the annual survey to find Britain's coolest brand. The CoolBrands list, now in its 11th year, is based on a vote by nearly 3,000 consumers and a panel of 39 designers, style experts and media personalities. The coolest brand was Apple, and the top seven included YouTube, Aston Martin, Twitter and Google. What, we wonder, would be Hong Kong's coolest brands?
 

Blood money

There is something irresistible about becoming a head of transport on the mainland, in the sense of being unable to resist sticking your hand in the till, so to speak. In the past 16 years, four transport heads of Henan province have resigned over corruption, of which two have so far been sentenced to life imprisonment, according to Xinhua. The latest casualty is Dong Yongan, who stood trial on October 9 for taking 30 million yuan (HK$37 million) in bribes.

Zeng Jincheng, who was jailed for bribery in 1997, reportedly wrote a letter in blood on assuming office: "As a Communist Party member, I promise not to take one cent of other people's money and … would not do things that let the Communist Party down."
 

A shopper's paradise

Those who like to keep up with what mainland shoppers are up to in Hong Kong will already know that tastes are changing. According to Nielsen, the fastest-growing segment of inbound tourism is the 8.9 million overnight visitors from the mainland's non-tier one cities. Mainland visitors from cities apart from Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai are up by 43 per cent from the previous year.

Shopping remains the No1 reason (90 per cent) for mainlanders to visit Hong Kong, with each tier one and non-tier one visitor spending an average of HK$35,640 and HK$22,000, respectively, per visit, of which 60 per cent for tier one and 71 per cent for non-tier one, respectively, is spent on shopping.

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

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