Lai See

The green green grass of Hong Kong … or lack of it

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 1:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 1:06am

One of the striking aspects of Hong Kong is the absence of grassy areas in the urban areas where people can walk around, sit, lie down, or where children can play. So many of our parks or gardens are essentially concrete walkways accompanied by flower beds. How much nicer it would be if they were all grass providing a gentle contrast to the harsh cityscape. Chater Garden, once a cricket ground, would be vastly improved if restored to grass. There is a grassy area on the waterfront area near Tamar, but this is criss-crossed with paths and little fences.

We suspect that for Leisure and Cultural Services, the government department that looks after open spaces, concrete is easier and cheaper to maintain than grass. Our developers, always keen to squeeze the most out of their plot ratios, would never contemplate grassy areas around their properties.

Given all this it is understandable that when what was probably one of the finest lawns accessible to the public in Hong Kong was drastically reduced, there was some disappointment. We are referring to the lawn at the back of the Hollywood Hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland, which has been open to the public since the hotel was opened in 2005. Disney has chosen to use at least half the space to house a new cooling plant for its hotels. But loss of this area has raised the ire of the Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong, which feels that Disney has an obligation to preserve the lawn and has mounted a campaign urging people to write to the Legislative Council urging them to ask Disney to reinstate the lawn. It will be recalled that the Hong Kong government has about 52 per cent of the equity in Hong Kong Disney.

To be fair to Disney, it says it has located its cooling facility on the site of the lawn as it needs to be reasonably close to the hotels. The company also says that the third hotel it wants to build will have an "Explorer's Lodge" theme and will have at least three or four themed gardens, resulting in more of a grassy area than previously. Indeed there is considerable open space and additional grassy areas and woods throughout the resort area, which the public can access freely and are well away from the crowds in the main amusement park. It is just a pity there isn't more of this elsewhere in Hong Kong.


Not cricket

You know things aren't going well when you can't be reimbursed for the bribes your boss ordered you to pay. This is the plight of staff at the China subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline, according to a Financial Times story. The British company's China operations are being investigated for corruption by mainland Chinese and British authorities.

Chinese sales staff say that GSK has denied them bonuses, threatened dismissal or refused to reimburse them for bribes they say were sanctioned by their superiors to boost the company's drug sales, according to the newspaper. In some instances they were told to purchase fake receipts to cover up bribes paid in cash.


Don't annoy the recruiter

Headhunters filling banking jobs in Asia say a number of candidates jeopardise their chances of a job by irritating the recruiter. Often candidates demand an interview with the client after an initial inquiry, forgetting that it is the client that pays the recruiter, says the website eFinancialCareers. Another trick is hounding the recruiter and trying to make him feel guilty.

"Too many senior finance professionals in Asia are being overlooked for specialist roles after submitting unfocused, generalist CVs that don't hone in on niche skills," James Incles, managing director of ESG Search in Hong Kong told the website. Applying for the same role via another agency will also annoy recruiters.

"A common mistake, often made by junior candidates, is to change the ball-park on salary expectations half way through the recruitment process or to suddenly ask for more at the end," says James Carss, managing director Asia at Dryden Human Capital in Hong Kong. Headhunters hate counter offers because their fees are put at risk. They also claim counter offers are bad for candidates.

"Most people who take counter offers end up leaving within a year anyway, Winnie Leung, an associate director at Pure Search in Hong Kong told the website.


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