taipan waxes poetic in praise of the truth of trend-lines Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp chairman Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen may be the bank's first Chinese taipan, but in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce yesterday he drew on his employer's Scottish heritage. Noting that yesterday was Robbie Burns day, Mr Cheng quoted a few lines of the bard's poetry: Tae see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us Helpfully for an audience not attuned to auld English further mutated by a thick Scottish brogue, the chief executive translated the verse thus: 'To see ourselves as others see us, would save us from many mistakes'. It was Mr Cheng's segue into a discourse into past media headlines about Hong Kong, bad ('Who needs Hong Kong?') and good ('Hong Kong holds all the aces in Asia'). His message? Ignore the headlines and watch the trend-lines, as the former are all about surface noise. An interesting point, perhaps, but all a bit too touchy-feely for us hard-bitten hacks. If the media is from Mars, Vincent must be from Venus. tom boss packs his mining kit You read it in this section first. On Monday we speculated that Tom Group chief executive Wang Sing's wage-slave days were nearing their end and mulled over his possible exit strategy from the media company. Mr Wang, who recently injected 25 per cent of his Amerinvest Coal Industry Holdings into listed shell Willie International Holdings, was never going to build his coking coal kingdom after hours. Such dreams require full-time labour. Yesterday, Tom said Mr Wang was stepping down and would be replaced by chief financial officer Tommei Tong Mei-kuen. If you are like Lai See and have a weakness for alliterative titles that just trip off the tongue, you cannot do much better than 'Tom Group tycooness Tommei Tong'. Mind you it would sound even better if the company were still known as Tom.com. investors invoke no-blunder clause The market does not like mistakes. Shares in Pacific Century Insurance Holdings' fell as much as 8.8 per cent in heavy trading yesterday after the firm said it had - 'errr, ooops, terribly sorry' - overstated its nine-month profit figure by $96.96 million. A previously reported profit of $104.97 million had to be revised down to a rather unlucky $8.01 million. PCI said it had incorrectly applied new accounting standard HKAS 39. It is not the type of mistake you would expect of a company chaired by deft deal magician Francis Yuen Tin-fan. Before the trading day was over, however, the company's shares recovered to close down only 0.88 per cent. Still, you would think you could buy insurance against this kind of event. coming soon, a lai see avalanche Not happily married like Lai See? Well here is some good news for all you lonely singletons out there. In accordance with tradition, New Year lai see packets are a cost item for married couples (because we are supposed to give them away) and a credit item for children and older lonely hearts (they receive them). Thanks to a better economy, market research company TNS predicts that 41 per cent of married adults will give out more money this year than they did last year. It further projects that 72 per cent of all married individuals will give lai see this year - against 62 per cent last - and their average outgoing will increase 25 per cent to $3,662. Lai See, of course, is a lai see giver but not too fussed about the financial burden involved. As we have said before, it is better to give than to receive. listen to the music OK, so maybe they are not as rich or famous as Twins' teen idols Gillian and Charlene, but boy can they sing. Lesser-known girls singing duo At 17, comprising Emam Lam and Ellen Loo, join Lai See in his latest podcast and reflect on their five years in the business. So tune in for a special musical podcast and listen to them sing.