One of our readers has had an interesting encounter with Hongkong Post in trying to persuade it to redirect the mail of his Filipino helper. He is leaving Hong Kong and his helper is accompanying him. She has a daughter in the United States who is an American citizen, but to enter the US, she requires a certificate of non-conviction from every country she has worked in. Obtaining one for the 15 years she has worked in Hong Kong was no problem, but she worked in Qatar in 1986, when computers were barely used in government.
She sent off her application, giving the Qatari authorities her address in Hong Kong, before she realised the process could take 18 months. So unless she restarted the process, she would have to get her mail redirected. She went to the post office with her employer, who had proof of his address together with her employment contract.
A member of the counter staff at the post office asked for proof of her address, such as a phone bill, which she didn't have, being a phone-card user. She had no bank account, and she did not pay water, gas or electricity bills. And no, she wasn't the owner of the property or the tenant. Her employer offered her contract as proof of address. But this was deemed unacceptable. The staff member spoke to his supervisor, who in turn spoke to his superior, and all were in agreement that nothing could be done.
Unsurprisingly, our reader formed the conclusion that this was another example of discrimination against domestic helpers. After he spoke to Lai See, we spoke to Teresa Lip Lai-sheung, a public-relations manager with the post office, who fortunately was more helpful. A day later, our reader received a message to say that the postmaster general, no less, had reconsidered the matter and would redirect his helper's mail. Following this incident, counter staff have been told that an employment contract can be used as proof of address.
One wonders how many other helpers have been unable to get their mail redirected as a result of the inflexible and unhelpful attitude of counter staff at the post office. It is hard to fathom why this should have been so difficult to resolve.
Laughing it off with yoga
We are glad to see the HoHoHaHaHa Society is spreading its wings in Hong Kong. The society, which practises Laughter Yoga, was set up in Hong Kong and subsequently won funding from the Love Ideas, Love HK organisation set up by the Li Ka Shing Foundation. It currently holds sessions at community centres across Hong Kong in addition to sessions in Kowloon Park.
What, you may ask, is Laughter Yoga? It combines unconditional laughter with Yogic breathing. According to the Laughter Yoga website, the practice makes people "happy, healthy and energised" and helps keep depression and stress at bay. Clinical research apparently shows that laughter lowers stress hormones in the blood.
The practice is the brainchild of Dr Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, who launched the first laughter club in May 1995. There are now thousands of laughter clubs in 72 countries.
"Scientific research", we are told, reveals that laughter can help resolve many major issues at the workplace, "yet, till now there has been no reliable and effective system to deliver the laugh". But Laughter Yoga is the breakthrough we have been waiting for since it enables continuous laughter for 15 to 20 minutes. In addition to laughter clubs, it is being applied in corporations in India, Denmark and the US. Perhaps the Hong Kong government could take the lead with this one - though some people feel it already has, albeit unwittingly.
Citi climbs to the top
There is jubilation at Citi, which according to Dealogic data has usurped HSBC as the leading debt house in Asia ex-Japan, at least for the first half of the year. It underwrote issues of US$13.6 billion compared with HSBC's HK$12.5 billion for the six months to July 30. JP Morgan was in third place, followed by Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.
Since July 2008, the best position achieved by Citi had been third place, hence the excitement with its current elevation. HSBC and JP Morgan have been the best performers in this sector since 2009. Goldman Sachs saw the biggest jump this year, rising from seventh place last year to fourth.
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