Lai See
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 2:19am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:26pm

Private sector shames Hong Kong government with Philippine aid

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.
 

HSBC Philippines is donating more than US$1 million as it activates a bank-wide relief and donation drive to provide aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and their families. In addition, HSBC Philippines is giving US$23,000 from its local funds, while donations are also being raised by HSBC employees globally. Already, other parts of the HSBC Group have collected more than US$60,000 over the past two days.

Hong Kong-based charity International Care Ministries, one of the largest charities operating in the Philippines, has created a disaster fund to offer aid to affected areas. This can be accessed at www.caremin.com/our-work/disaster-fund The charity operates in eight regions of the Philippines, three of which have been affected by Haiyan.

In addition, private equity firm KGLI Asia, which invests in the Philippines, has pledged US$1 million for disaster relief and rebuilding efforts in those communities affected by Haiyan. The firm's Philippine ventures include Sabah Al-Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City and an investment in the 2GO Group, the Philippines' largest supply chain management and logistics services provider. The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of KGL Investment, which is based in Kuwait, where about 140,000 Filipinos work.

There are about 160,000 Filipino workers in Hong Kong but despite this, the government is still preoccupied with the hostage shooting incident of three years ago. Our chief executive yesterday said Manila had not asked for an extension to the one-month deadline it had given the Philippines to settle the claims of the hostage victims and their families. It has said it intends to introduce sanctions if this deadline is not met.

As we said yesterday, this is petty stuff compared with the problems the Philippines now has to deal with. The Philippines should just ignore this deadline and wait for the international opprobrium that will be dumped on Hong Kong should it go ahead with sanctions. It is shameful and deeply embarrassing.

We see that the mainland has likewise covered itself in glory with its derisory donation of US$100,000, less than one tenth of the donations made by HSBC and KGL Investment. Small wonder that Beijing's soft power is so much weaker than the US when it behaves like this.

 

Books for women

The bookshop Dymocks has produced a timely catalogue offering suggestions of Christmas presents for "him and her". It is aimed at easing the annual problem of what presents to give people. But it has not been to everyone's liking. Indeed it has risen the ire of one female reader in particular who notes that the "gifts for her" category includes books about cooking, art, cats, happiness, tips for single girls, fashion magazines and interior design. The "gifts for him" category includes books about the history of everyday objects, why underdogs succeed more often than would be expected, creativity, behavioural economics, 1001 ideas that changed the way we think and so on. The reader points out that women are also interested in most of the topics that are suggested for men. Another case of gender stereotyping perhaps. The list was obviously drawn up by a man.

 

Bling bling

We were momentarily tempted to attend the Links of London annual press presentation today. That is until we saw that we were invited from 12pm to 5pm - a mere five hours. The invitation came with a picture of an alluring model draped in the firm's products. But five hours gazing at upmarket bling? Not for the faint-hearted.

 

Never enough pay

Pay worries continue to eat away at those in the finance industry. In a recent lecture at the High Pay Centre in Britain, RBS chairman Philip Hampton said bonuses at the bank had been cut by 80 per cent, the website eFinancialCareers reports.

Unsurprisingly, this has upset RBS bankers, some of whom, Hampton said, had complained to him. One senior investment banker, he recalled, had been apoplectic to discover his package was only £4 million, (HK$49 million) when someone doing a comparable job at a rival bank was receiving £6 million. "This is absolutely outrageous to them, that somebody is getting 50 per cent more," Hampton said, adding that he had an "out of body experience" on receiving the complaint.

 

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

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