• Sun
  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 2:18am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 2:50am

How did the darling of the 'ugly colonial era' survive?

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's been some response from readers to our report of Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's exchange with Paul Zimmerman on Facebook. She, it will be recalled, erupted when he addressed her as "darling". Ip exclaimed, "But I cannot stand Zimmerman 'darling' me. Really this sort of patronising remark really makes me sick. Reminds me of the ugly colonial era."

Some have taken exception to her reference to the "ugly colonial era". This is not because they disagree with the description of that period of Hong Kong's history, but because they feel that for more than 20 years of that era she was able to mask her anguish while happily tucking into the munificent benefits available to her as a senior government official. Indeed, since she became a senior figure in the civil service, you could say she played a leading role in the "ugly colonial" administration.

Zimmerman was something of an underdog by comparison. He is Dutch and did not have the rights that came with being British to visa-free stay and so on. Some readers were also disappointed at the way Ip attributed Zimmerman's election to the Southern District Council to the desire on the part of the district's large expatriate community to support "one of their own kind". One can only speculate on the storm of protest that would have occurred if, say, Zimmerman had attributed Ip's Legco election victory to support for "one of their own kind". A most unattractive turn of phrase, to say the least.
 

Will Kai Tak stadium go pop?

We have studied with interest the artist's impression of the proposed sports stadium at Kai Tak that's now under threat. It's rumoured that the government is thinking of scrapping it to make way for more housing. We see the stadium is set in the middle of a large residential development. This proposed location dooms the stadium to underuse, since it will run up against government noise restrictions.

This was the fate that befell the spanking new Hong Kong Stadium at So Kon Po in the 1990s. It had been hoped there could be pop concerts and the like in the evening, but this was smartly knocked on the head by complaints from the well-heeled and well connected living on Broadwood Road above the stadium. The proposed new stadium at Kai Tak would face similar restrictions.

There must surely be somewhere in Asia's World City that could serve as a sports venue and also stage pop concerts. The AsiaWorld-Expo site may be fine for conventions and exhibitions, but it doesn't cut it as a venue for popular music concerts.
 

Red carpet leads to red faces

Internet pictures of a deputy governor of Henan province have caused consternation. The official was captured walking on a red carpet while visiting a construction site at a water project owned by the Zhengzhou municipal government. In an apology, the municipal government said it had entrusted the ceremony to a local advertising company that had been responsible for the deputy governor's red carpet treatment, Xinhua reports.

It adds: "The idea of a high-ranking official behaving like a pop star, complete with expensive clothing and a large entourage, upset many internet users." Xinhua comments: "Officials who feel at ease when walking on the red carpet should instead be on high alert. The conspicuous way they behave today may lead to embarrassment or even loss of their jobs tomorrow."
 

Jimmy's surprise package

Taiwan employees of Next Media have received a pleasant surprise in the form of an extra month's salary plus 10 per cent of the company's profits after a recent deal in which Hong Kong media magnate Jimmy Lai sold his Taiwan holdings to a group headed by Jeffrey Koo Jnr for NT$17.5 billion (HK$4.64 billion).

The deal has stunned the Taiwanese employees of the Hong Kong-based Next Media group, as they were concerned that Lai would just pack up and head back to Hong Kong in disregard of their benefits.

Sources from the workers' union of Taiwan's edition of Apple Daily and senior editorial officials of Taiwan's Next Magazine confirmed yesterday that representatives of the Taiwanese employees had dealt with Lai in the presence of Koo, son of billionaire Jeffrey Koo, who heads the Taipei-based ChinaTrust group.
 

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

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