HSBC throws borrowers a bone as bank of china sells them a pup Even Lai See is beginning to tire of all the canine puns and motifs inspired by the Year of the Dog. But while the pup is already five days old, yesterday was the first business day - and this our first column - in the new year. So please forgive us this longer leash. Just for today, anyway. It was a case of good dog, bad dog for local banks. Responding to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's command to 'Heel!', good dog HSBC resisted the urge to run off and chase the Fed's latest 25 basis point rise. But bad dog Bank of China (Hong Kong) was off like a shot, raising its best lending rate from 7.75 per cent to 8 per cent. As for the Hang Seng Index, it managed to dig itself out of a bit of a hole. It opened higher, punching through 15,800, plunged below 15,650 and finally recovered to 15,742, just 10.8 points down on the day. (Could it have been burying a bone?) With that dogged performance and a strong day for China stocks, it is definitely too early to conclude that the Year of the Dog will be a bear of a year. Woof! the wages of spin Quick - somebody call the ICAC! Both Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu and Secretary for the Financial Services Frederick Ma Si-hang were caught red-handed yesterday as they distributed bribes to journalists. At the stock exchange's opening, Mr Chow handed out lai see packets with $20 notes in them - a 'lunchbox lai see', if you will. Mr Ma, appearing at the opening of the gold and silver exchange, upped the ante with $50 lai sees, which will at least buy you a pint of beer. When you think about it, Mr Chow was being a bit cheap. HKEx's shares have more than doubled over the past year and hit a new high yesterday. moving in The year got off to a cracking good start for Swire Properties. The developer's largest Pacific Place tenant, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, has agreed to rent another floor and a half - or 20,000 sq ft - at Three Pacific Place, increasing its total space taken to 188,000 sq ft. Societe Generale will also take a floor at Three Pacific Place. a very late christmas Corporate activist and occasional stock tipster David Webb - he has some $300 million of his own cash invested in the market - has put his money where his mouth is. Yesterday, he disclosed he had spent $28 million to acquire 5 per cent of Fujikon Holdings, his Christmas pick last year. Unlike his previous picks, Fujikon has been trailing the market of late. But we'll give him some more time before we write off Fujikon. grave state of affairs Tomb-raiding is fine for the movies and television but not reality. News some thugs had damaged the tomb of Li Ka-shing's wife, Li Chong Yuet-ming, and robbed a caretaker couple at the Cape Collinson cemetery marred an otherwise festive start to the new year. Lai See is of the opinion that there is no hell low enough for people who stoop to this level of desecration, especially in a culture where ancestors are so revered. The incident also raises questions about the local media's all too often excessive intrusion into the lives of business, entertainment and political celebrities. Lai See understands that during a visit to his wife's grave on January 1, Mr Li was tailed by photographers from the Apple Daily and Oriental Sunday, both of which later published pictures of him there. Mr Li, understandably, was not pleased. We also note that the Apple Daily's coverage of the incident at the weekend was the most aggressive among local papers, even regurgitating superstitious nonsense that damage to the tomb could affect the Li family's fortunes. 'We are truly sympathetic to the Li family for the destruction of their mum's memorial,' the Apple Daily told us when we queried their news sense yesterday. 'It is an evil, criminal act that deserves full punishment for the culprits, and prayer and condolences to the Li family.'