Wealth Blog

CY Leung turns down FCC

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 7:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 7:06pm

Just before Christmas, our own dear Chief Executive CY Leung came and addressed the Foreign Correspondents’ Club as a lunchtime speaker. Beforehand, as is the case with previous chief executives and governors, including Chris Patten and Donald Tsang, he was given honorary membership of the club.

This does not give him free food and booze for life, it merely excuses him the $25,000 associate member joining fee and $950 monthly dues. He was formerly a member in his own right, but resigned 10 years ago because it was, he said, no longer handy for his new office. While the FCC does not expect these guys to be propping up the main bar on a Friday night, no one has ever turned us down before.

Well, there’s always a first time, and this was it. When given the card, Mr Leung swiftly pocketed it, as if it was hot, saying he would get back to us regarding whether he could accept it or not. Last week we received a letter returning the card, explaining it would be inappropriate for him to accept it. So there you go, all above board and accepting no freebies.

Lithium Batteries - Beware

Recent travelers cannot fail to have noticed signs about lithium batteries posted around airports. Airline staff now ask if you are carrying any lithium batteries, but seem clueless if you ask how would you know if you had such things, and in what gadgets do they lurk? A bit of research reveals that yes, indeed, we should be concerned about lithium batteries. They tend to be volatile and prone to catching fire and exploding, and in fact, cargoes of them downed two 747 freighter aircraft, killing the crew.

Most airlines now refuse to transport these batteries, but Cathay Pacific still flies them about. Should we be concerned about this? Especially as these batteries are actually used onboard as part of many planes operating systems.

Asking a CX pilot seemed a good idea, since he of all people should be particularly concerned. As indeed he was. The situation is this, he said. Lithium batteries are notoriously unstable, but inside your mobile phone or ipad they are safe enough. They only cause trouble when not encased in something or in large bulky amounts, such as in the hold of an aircraft. So why is CX still accepting cargoloads of the things? He replied that the airline was now using purpose-built containers for the batteries, and filling the spaces inside with a special gas that renders them harmless and cuts the risk of exploding and catching fire. But, he said, yes, lithium batteries are used in many hand held electronic gizmos like mobile phones, so the theoretical risk of a problem exists, but seemingly only with loose batteries. Not the ones inside the phones and gadgets. Which is why the check in staff ask you confidently if you have any lithium batteries on you or in your baggage. The answer is probably yes, because you have an ipad or phone, but in reality it would be worse if you took it out, rather than left it in the device. So do not all remove your lithium batteries from your phones in flight and throw them together in a bucket, thinking that makes them safe. It does not. Leave them where they are.