• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 11:55am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 5:01am

Waving the anti-parking flag in Big Wave Bay

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.
 

For those interested in the progress of the campaign against illegal parking there is good news and bad news.

First the good news. There were signs over the weekend that our months of complaining about the softly-softly approach by police and traffic wardens to illegally parked vehicles appears to be paying off. Our man on the spot reports that on Sunday morning three policemen and one traffic warden were busy booking every car the minute the parking meter expired.

Now for the bad news. You might wonder where this display of enthusiasm occurred. In Hong Kong's most congested areas - Central, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai? Alas no, this diligent ticketing was being conducted in Big Wave Bay public car park, Shek O, which is about half the size of a football pitch. Meanwhile back in Wan Chai, illegal parking was rampant as usual, with cars everywhere, and of course no policemen or traffic wardens.

 

Dutchman very Hanoi-ed

We are continuing to receive a stream of "observations" from HSBC's ATM card users about the tribulations of attempting to access their funds using the China UnionPay payments system outside Asia. The latest comes from a Dutchman who, frustrated at not being able to extract his cash using his HSBC ATM, card, rang HSBC in Amsterdam. It advised him to consult the China UnionPay website in the hope of finding one that would work. When he visited the "UnionPay in Europe" page and clicked on "Holland", he was confronted with a list of ATMs in Vietnam. Which we can verify is how things still stand today.

 

Efficiency drive

We would like to commend the Kwun Tong Licensing Office, for the surge in efficiency over the past year. Several years ago renewing a vehicle licence in person was an excruciating experience which could take up to 40 minutes waiting initially, followed by another 10 to 15 minute wait to pay and collect the licence. The whole process has now been reduced to a stunning 10 minutes. Unfortunately, chief executive CY Leung can't take the credit for this.

 

Murray's advice for bankers

The current heat wave notwithstanding, the Financial Times story that Britain's finance minister George Osborne is not altogether opposed to the idea that banking bonuses should be deferred for 10 years has sent a cold blast through the financial community.

Taken together with the European Union's bonus cap, which is due to come into effect in January next year, it would make London, once one of the world's most attractive financial centres to work in, one of the most unappealing.

The website Efinancial Careers suggests that bankers take a leaf out of Wimbledon winner Andy Murray's book. For many years he was quite unpopular due to a "distant and aloof" manner. But this all changed last year, when he cried in public after losing the 2012 final and said he wanted to win.

The British public now loves him, and although his industry is dominated by foreign talent, he has triumphed. He apparently sleeps 12 hours a night, while most bankers get about half that.

 

Where the big money is

Which city has the highest number of millionaires? The answer, according to the London-based Wealth Intelligence Centre Database, is Tokyo, which at the end of 2012 had more than 461,000 millionaires. It was followed by New York City with 389,000, and London with 281,000. Beijing was sixth, with 216,000, Hong Kong eighth with 187,000, followed by Shanghai with 166,000 and Singapore with 157,000. However, London has the highest number of ultra-wealthy individuals - US$30 million plus - at 4,224. Tokyo was next with 3,525, followed by Singapore on 154, New York City on 2,929 and Hong Kong on 2,560. If we turn to billionaires, the top cities were New York with 70, Moscow with 64, London with 54, Hong Kong with 40, and Beijing with 29.

 

Liquid assets

People can rest assured that the recent months of rain we have endured have not been in vain. According to the government, storage in Hong Kong's reservoirs stood at 80.6 per cent of capacity, at 472 million cubic metres. This time last year the reservoirs contained 405 million cubic metres of water, representing 69 per cent of capacity.

 

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

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