Government leads the way in illegal parking
It will come as no surprise to be told that illegal parking continues unabated. But it is slightly disappointing to see it being encouraged by senior government officials.
Our picture shows a government car illegally parked on Gloucester Road during rush hour, forcing a bus to wait in the road, thereby causing traffic congestion. This sort of thing just encourages a culture of low-level law breaking.
Meanwhile, the police have taken to the air waves, notably in two episodes of RTHK's Police Report several months ago in which it points out the inconvenience that illegal parking causes. Maybe the government official should be encouraged to watch the two episodes of Police Report, even though one episode stretches reality by showing a car being towed away for illegal parking.
On a related matter, we remarked recently on the derisory efforts to enforce the engine idling law and noted that in the 14 months to July 31 a total of only 47 tickets were issued for idling engines. We learned recently that 45 of these tickets were issued by environmental protection officers, and two by traffic wardens.
More HSBC ATM tales
We continue to hear of more aggravation from HSBC customers trying to extract their money from ATMs under the new arrangements.
The latest story comes from a reader who travelled with his wife to the United States having made sure that his account was linked to his credit card, so as to be able to get into the Cirrus payments network and his current account. Requiring several thousand US dollars, he found he had to make multiple transactions for which he was billed HK$20 per transaction. Strangely his wife, who performed similar transactions with her card, wasn't charged. So he e-mailed the bank and was informed that transaction costs for using an HSBC ATM was HK$20 per transaction - which is supposed to be waived for Premier account holders. He was refunded his transaction fees, but his experience led him to reflect that, "to get your money when overseas you not only need to activate the accounts you need on your credit card but be fully conversant with the bank's policy and small print to ensure you don't get hit by an avoidable, unpublished fee. Admittedly this only applies to Premier account holders but does seem pretty pathetic."
We feel we should point out that these have now become transitional arrangements as HSBC has said it will be offering another ATM card which will be linked to the Cirrus or Plus networks as an alternative to the current card, which is linked via the UnionPay network. This will be a huge relief to the bank's customers, and no doubt to HSBC too.
India has appointed the distinguished economist Raghuram Rajan as its new Reserve Bank governor. He's a former chief economist with the International Monetary Fund and holds a number of prominent academic positions. He's also had the distinction of crossing swords with the ebullient Larry Summers, who is a front runner to be the next Fed chairman. Should Summers be appointed, it will surely lead to friction at future G20 finance summits when the two will meet. In 2005 at the exclusive Jackson Hole talk-fest for economists and central bankers, Rajan had the temerity to argue that the combination of financial deregulation, high leverage, innovation in derivatives, and skewed incentives was likely to cause a financial crisis in the United States. Summers dismissed him as "basic, slightly Luddite … and largely misguided". Which of the two would you rather have running your central bank?
The London theatre company Shakespeare's Globe is coming to Hong Kong for the first time with its highly rated all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew. There'll be seven performances at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts' Lyric Theatre between September 25-29. The play kicks off a new season of shows from London's West End brought to Hong Kong by locally based ABA Productions. Next up is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, One Man Lord of the Rings and How to Catch a Star, in October, followed by A Clockwork Orange in November. For more details go to: www.aba-productions.com
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