Lai See

Hong Kong needs a superior system of government

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 12:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 12:38am

It is hard not to agree with the view that Hong Kong stands in danger of becoming ungovernable. Former civil servant Rachel Cartland expressed this view yesterday during a talk at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, but it's something that many have been concerned about for the past couple of years.

Government ministers and observers alike despair at the prospect of getting anything through the Legislative Council within a reasonable time period. The government dares to introduce only priority legislation to the Legco wringer, while what might be considered more peripheral legislation isn't even considered. One only has to look at the progress of legislation currently going through Legco to legalise the double stamp duty. It was introduced in February last year, and 14 months later is still not completed.

Speaking on RTHK's Backchat programme yesterday Starry Lee Wai-king, who is chairwoman of the Legco Bills Committee, was vague as to when she thought the stamp duty bill might become law, saying she thought it might be the end of the current legislative session or towards the end of the year. If so it will have taken almost two years to get through Legco.

With everyone focusing on the reform of the arrangements for electing the chief executive, it is not clear that things are going to get any better soon. One of the advantages of having an administration that has a genuine popular mandate is that the legislative process works more smoothly. Hong Kong's system seems almost designed to fail.


Davidoff's Dominican products

Davidoff says in a press statement that it is a "proud Associate Partner of the second Art Basel show in Hong Kong". The company says it will launch its first-ever Davidoff Limited Art Edition which has been created by Quisqueya Henriquez, visual artist from the Dominican Republic and among the first artists of the Davidoff Art Initiative.

At the same time Davidoff says that it is "pleased to treat and welcome VIP guests in its Booth in the Collectors Lounge." For all its pride, Davidoff is being rather coy about the location of its lounge. When its guests discover its location they will find that Davidoff operates a "hospitality lounge" which gives visitors "the opportunity to experience and enjoy the world of Davidoff and our products from the Dominican Republic". These "products" should not be confused with artwork, of which Davidoff is so proud, but to its cigars, which Hong Kong's laws against tobacco advertising forbid the company from mentioning.


BAML wins again

They are cock-a-hoop at Bank of America Merrill Lynch after coming first for a fourth successive year in Institutional Investor's All-Asia Research team award. Indeed the bank excelled itself in coming top in the All-Asia Sales team category for the third successive year, and was also first as the All-Asia Trading team, and for the second successive year shared first place with Morgan Stanley for Asia's Top Corporate Access Providers. In the sales category Bank of America Merill Lynch was followed by Morgan Stanley, UBS, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse.

What this all means is a matter of conjecture. Firms that win are delighted while those that don't do well are a tad sniffy about magazine awards. Institutional Investor says that it received responses for the survey from 2,260 buy-side analysts and money managers at 850 firms that collectively manage US$1.5 trillion in funds, and weighted the responses by assets under management.


Laughing all the way to the bank

Apparently the stressful world of investment banking has realised that a sense of humour is a useful attribute. The website eFinancialCareers notes that Citi was looking for a junior banker with a "proven track experience in a capital markets or investment banking role", along with a second European language, a degree, strong interpersonal skills and advanced knowledge of Excel. In addition Citi also stipulated that candidates could benefit from a "sense of humour/robust personality/resilience/self-confidence". Citi is also looking for a strategy and execution person in its finance and risk division who needs to be autonomous and able to maintain a sense of humour in stressful situations.


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