• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 11:50am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 1:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 1:10am

Should Anthony Cheung resign?

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.
 

So another MTR head bites the dust. CEO Jay Walder we learn will not renew his contract when it expires next year. This we are told was decided in 2013 and has nothing to do with the current debacle over the high speed rail. However, the announcement of it now surely has everything to do with it, while also trying to keep the Legislative Council at bay.

One interesting question is whether the Secretary for Housing and Transport Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung will resign. There have been calls from legislators for him to do so and Cheung has apparently been consulting friends over this. But the government is keen for him to stay. It is already looking threadbare and another resignation is the last thing it wants at this stage. He is currently being portrayed as an innocent who made "an error of judgment" in accepting MTR assurances that the project could be finished on time.

Now he's saying he should have told the public in November when he says he first heard about the delay. However, we should also recall his response to the initial announcement of the delay on April 15. "I was totally caught by surprise," he said, adding he had only heard of the delay a few days before the announcement.

This, it turns out, was not entirely true as documents leaked to the press showed that the government and presumably Cheung were aware of the possibility of a delay some months ago. So he is guilty of poor oversight of the MTR, of being, shall we say, "conservative" with the truth, and exercising poor judgment.

He was also naive in imagining that a story like this involving so many people and contractors could be contained. On the bright side he's not been found to have been dabbling in land speculation, or corruption, nor does he have conflicts of interest. It is tempting to say that by current standards of governance his errors are not exceptional.

 

Not flying high

Asia-Pacific airlines had a poor year in 2013 with net profits of US$2.5 billion compared with US$5.6 billion in 2012, a decline of 55 per cent. This is despite a growth of 6.3 per cent in revenue passenger kilometres (number of paying passengers multiplied by distance travelled), according to figures released by the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines. International air cargo measured in freight tonne kilometres declined by 1.2 per cent. Operating revenue fell 2.1 per cent to US$171.2 billion, with passenger revenues falling 2.2 per cent and air cargo down 4.6 per cent. Profit margin for the region's carriers was 1.5 per cent compared with 3.2 per cent in 2012.

 

O level in maths will do

Neil Woodford, one of Britain's best-known fund mangers, spent 25 years managing the Invesco Perpetual High Income Fund which gained 2,213 per cent. Asked by The Telegraph if ordinary investors could copy his stock-picking techniques, he said: "You need a basic understanding of accounting but not advanced skills. It's important not to get too scientific about it. Accounts are becoming more complex and impenetrable - HSBC's run to about 500 pages - and I defy anyone to read and understand them all."

He went on to say: "As long as you assume that companies report their results faithfully, you don't need to be a genius to get what you need from their accounts. I'm living proof of that - I have just an O level in maths and no accountancy qualification."

 

Can you flirt?

For reasons that are not immediately clearly we have been sent an e-mail by the dating website Lunch Actually headed, How to Flirt With Men Without Appearing Desperate. In addition to setting up lunch dates with singles the site organises workshops to improve dating skills. The invitation explains that: "Flirting is a natural flow of energy between two people attracted to one another. It consists of actions, words and eye contact." In this workshop, you will learn What is flirting; How to flirt like a pro face to face, and over text; and How to flirt without looking desperate.

In addition, participants will get to practise their "new flirting skills immediately in a series of entertaining and enlightening role-play sessions". Workshop sessions are this evening or tomorrow, and cost HK$100. You can register here: http://bit.ly/1jDSZza

 

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

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6

This article is now closed to comments

keresearch
he is also guilty of not releasing price sensitive information to the exchange
sipsip1238
Why write an article to a question that everyone knows the answers to.
What would be more interesting would be an article about why Jay Walder hasn't been fired instead of being given the choice to continue earning a fat income until his contract finishes.
rpasea
If Cheung doesn't resign, what does this say about ministerial accountability? The MTRC saga speaks more about the inherent failures of the ministerial system than it does about the shortcomings of one person. What have any of these mandarins actually accomplished?
John Adams
Agreed !
.
Where is the "buck stops here" theos on CY's government team ?
asiaseen
In the HK administration the buck is given a free ride - it doesn't stop anywhere.
pbhawk
yes
 
 
 
 
 

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