Labour unions are fighting for minimum wages for workers and our new Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has agreed to consider the issue. So Mr Tsang, will you also consider setting minimum remunerations for our independent directors? It is a public secret that independent non-executive directors in Hong Kong are poorly paid, getting about $100,000 to $200,000 a year compared with more than $400,000 in Britain. Even blue-chip companies such as Sun Hung Kai Properties pay only $40,000 a year, or $3,333.33 a month, to their independent directors - not quite enough to hire a tea lady. Hong Kong Institute of Directors chairman Herbert Hui Ho-ming has been calling for richer rewards for independent directors to lure more talent to the posts. Inadequate pay has been blamed as a reason some small companies find it hard to attract skilled independent directors. Speaking on White Collar's first podcast, Mr Hui said the institute would issue guidelines within a month to help companies determine levels of remuneration for directors. The pay levels, Mr Hui said, should be determined by the time given by independent directors and their workloads. The knowledge and experience of the directors should also be taken into account and those with a special knowledge and contributing more should be paid extra. For full details of the broadcast, please log on to columns.scmp.com and click on White Collar for the podcast link. DON't FORGET THE GONGS Mr Hui is a busy bee. Besides lobbying for a pay rise for independent directors, the institute is now arranging the Directors of the Year Awards 2005. The annual competition acknowledges the performances of directors and companies in achieving good corporate governance practices. Candidates considered worthy of an award can be nominated before July 15. The awards will be presented in a grand ceremony on November 17. KITCHEN kitty? Former chef-turned-entrepreneur Wong Kwan has quit Pearl Oriental Enterprises by selling his entire 14.9 per cent stake for $102 million and will no longer be chairman and executive director of the company. Mr Wong is no stranger to the public. He was an acknowledged chef before he turned his focus on trading stock and property in 1990s. His formerly owned listed firm Pearl Oriental Holdings once held the world's most expensive property, Skyhigh, on the Peak. Mr Wong came back to the market by buying a stake in leather maker Dah Hwa International (Holdings) in October 2003, now renamed Pearl Oriental Enterprises. So what will he do next? Our broker friends are anxious he heads back to the kitchen! 'Mr Wong was an excellent chef and his dishes are so delicious. I found the abalone he made was the best in the town,' one salivating broker said. With $102 million in his pocket after the share sale, Mr Wong should have enough capital to open his own restaurant and go back to his roots. Proposed name - how about Skyhigh Abalone? CHANCE FOR THE LITTLIES ING Life, an insurer active in charity, has launched a series of charity programmes under the theme of 'Giving the Children a Chance' to run in conjunction with its sponsored ING Manchester United Cup to be held in Hong Kong on July 23. Under the programme, 22 youngsters between four and 12 show off their singing and dancing talents in a quest to be one of 11 team mascots for the Red Devil stars in the match. The other 11 will be mascots for the Hong Kong team. ING Life on July 9 also will host a free-style football competition in which three winners will attend the charity dinner to be held after the match of the ING Manchester United Cup. Don't miss the chance to drink with the Red Devils!