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  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 4:08pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:59am

Springtime for Hitler somewhere over a law awards rainbow

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 was unexpected entertainment at the Euromoney Asia Women in Business Law Awards recently. The high point of the evening was a lifetime achievement award for former secretary of justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie, who surprisingly failed to win the standing ovation some might feel she deserved. This may not be unconnected with her recent reproaches of the judiciary.

Leung's award was preceded by a keynote speech from Edith Shih, group general counsel at Hutchison Whampoa, who convincingly used statistics to highlight the achievements of and remaining challenges for women lawyers, before announcing she would close by capturing the spirit of her presentation with a rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

With Judy Garland-like aplomb, Shih, who is a soprano soloist with the Hong Kong Oratorio Society, grabbed a microphone, cued background music, and warbled her way through the entire number. The spectacle took on added edge as, near the end, she stepped off the stage to wander among her nervous-looking audience, urging them vainly to join in. It wasn't quite Springtime for Hitler, but close.

 

Tamar's missing link

Yesterday we reflected on the Tamar government offices project and what happened to its original concept. One of its informing principles was "People Will Be Connected", and this supposedly reflects the site "as an accessible pleasant gathering place".

However, this concept doesn't quite square with the footbridge from the Tamar government offices that crosses Harcourt Road. Instead of going directly into Queensway Plaza in Admiralty Centre, it stops about 10cm short of the plaza wall and goes down to the pavement, thus requiring the public to change levels. Former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen's office - after some pressure - explained this absurdity.

"Although Admiralty Centre is managed by the Mass Transit Railway Corporation, it has multiple owners and the resumption of units to make an adequate connection was deemed difficult," his office said. In other words: too much like hard work. So rather than negotiating with the shopowners, the government adopted the more thuggish approach of building right up to the wall, which reduced the value of some of the shops since they are no longer so visible at street level. The government's attitude was that if they wanted to connect to the footbridge, the shopowners would have to organise it themselves.

As Paul Zimmerman, CEO of Designing Hong Kong, pointed out to us: "It is not in keeping with the upper level network of walkways and footbridges in the area. The demand for a convenient connection will increase once the new waterfront is completed."

If the government now decides to resume the few units needed in Admiralty Centre, the cost will have multiplied several times. Lane Crawford has moved from Pacific Place to Queensway, and shops formerly in Queensway are pushing up demand and rent in Admiralty Centre. This increase in value is also due to the footbridge, government offices and waterfront park. "All this will increase the public need for the direct connection, but at the same time costs have risen. The opportunity to create the direct connection cheaply was before Tamar construction started," Zimmerman says.

The shopowners are unlikely to be able to agree among themselves over this issue, so there will probably never be a direct connection from Queensway Plaza across to the "green carpet" and beyond.

 

Made in Taiwan

Hollywood productions have been increasing their box office in China, reports the online publication Week in China, which is distributed by HSBC. Foreign films now account for 59 per cent of the mainland box office. The last foreign import of this year's coveted quota was Life of Pi, which was directed by Chinese director Ang Lee. Lee, who is from Taiwan, visited the mainland to promote the film. The trip was widely covered by the mainland press but scant attention was paid to the fact that the film was shot in Taiwan. Meanwhile, in Taiwan the press played up the film's connection with Taiwan. Week in China suggests the difference in approach was because Beijing was uncomfortable that a film made in Taiwan should be classified as "foreign".

 

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

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