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  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 7:45pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 3:53am

If StanChart doesn't want us, why keep inviting us?

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 are beginning to feel that in a previous life we must have done something bad to Standard Chartered Bank. Why otherwise would they have devised the mild but persistent form of torment it annually inflicts on Lai See.

For the past two years we have been invited to its Earth Resources Conference, We dutifully reply that we would be delighted to attend. A few days before the conference the organisers send a reminder. But when we show up on the big day we are taken aside and told in apologetic tones that it is a closed conference and that no press are allowed. This year we received another invitation. Assuming the bank had changed its policy and decided to allow the press in, we registered, giving name, address and employer. The registration was accepted and we got the usual reminder. So far, so good.

Yesterday morning we arrived at the conference venue, the registration was checked and in we went. Having had breakfast and chatted to a few familiar faces, we set off for the first event, only to feel a tap on the shoulder. "We're awfully sorry, there seems to have been a mistake. This is a closed event," came that familiar refrain. What happened to "My word is my bond"?

 

They all look the same

A considerable amount has been written about leaker Edward Snowden recently, mostly surrounding the rights and wrongs of surveillance. We tuned into the weekend edition of the BBC World Service's "From the Fifth Floor" for additional enlightenment, only to be sadly disappointed. We heard the Chinese reporter saying: "He [Snowden] may have to hide himself in the expat community, because if you hide in the expat community, then there's plenty of foreigners around. So for Chinese like us, we may not be able to recognise him."

So the reporter is effectively saying that all white people look the same. One can't help feeling that it would not have gone unnoticed if a white reporter had remarked that all Chinese looked the same.

 

Pirates of Shanghai

The 16th Shanghai International Film Festival is in full swing at the moment. Unsurprisingly, it attracts film glitterati from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and a growing contingent from the West. These included British director Tom Hooper, who heads the festival jury, along with French critic Michel Ciment, German director Chris Kraus and Chinese director Ning Hao. Keanu Reeves is there, with Oliver Stone, who has caused a stir with his comments on the Edward Snowden affair.

But the one downside for those visiting Shanghai at this time is that the sellers of pirated videos, of which there are many, disappear from view. There is no police crackdown: there appears to be an informal understanding that, for the duration of the festival, they shut up shop, until the foreigners have all gone home.

 

Fortress on low pressure

A reader informed us that Fortress now only has a Chinese website and had dropped its English language site. Fearing there had been a change in the store's policy which had gone unnoticed, we asked the group's corporate communication people what was going on. We were told it was just a temporary move and a new and better version would be online next month. "We're going to put a notice online about it," we were told. "When?" we enquired. "Maybe next week," came the response. Evidently no pressure.

 

Everyone's a winner

The highly anticipated Skytrax World Airlines awards have been announced at the Paris air show, with Emirates Airlines securing the Airline of the Year accolade. Our own Cathay Pacific was ranked 6th. The awards are not decided by Skytrax but by passengers. But there are so many awards, it seems hard to avoid getting one.

Cathay, for example, won awards for the Best Cabin Staff, and Best Transpacific Airline. But there are also awards for Best Cabin Cleanliness, Best Airport Services, Best Cabin, and Best Seats. This is in addition to awards for catering and the best dishes. Air Asia was the World's Best Low-Cost Airline.

One award worth noting in more detail, perhaps, is the Most Improved Airline: Russia's Transaero Airlines, followed by Azerbaijan Airlines, Norwegian, Air Seychelles, and Ethiopian Airlines.

 

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

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KwunTongBypass
When do we rank airlines by COMFORT ESSENTIALS: Seat width, length, distance between your nose and lowered seat in front of you; cabin air temperature and humidity; size of overhead lockers; NUMBER of toilettes.
XYZ
Yet another Lai See column sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways.

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