Bargain-basement wine can be hard to palate
Our observation yesterday that Henry Tang's basement problems had brought him perilously close to his drink-by date, prompted a reader to send us what he presumably thought were appropriate tasting notes for red Bordeaux which he culled from Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine. 'Rather tired, showing its age'; 'Just a touch hollow'; 'past its best'; 'on the downward slope'; 'rich bouquet but disappointing'; 'lacking charm or finesse'; 'pleasant enough but no more': 'less of a shooting star more of a damp squib'; 'lacked the stamina to stay the course '; and finally 'touch of bitterness, sad ending'.
A breach of the peace?
We wonder what action the government will take over Henry Tang's status as a Justice of the Peace. The original function of JPs has fallen into disuse and it is now a minor honour conferred by the government. Hong Kong's Justice of the Peace Ordinance requires those selected to be considered fit and proper. 'The chief executive ... may appoint ... any other person whom he considers to be fit and proper, to be a justice of the peace on such terms and conditions as the Chief Executive may determine.' JPs have to take an oath in which they undertake to 'uphold the law of Hong Kong.' It is for more learned minds than ours to determine whether Tang has breached this oath after admitting he was aware of the construction of an illegal basement at a family home.
Waste plan a burning issue
We hear the government is taking steps to ensure that the Legislative Council does not block the financing for what it likes to call the integrated waste management facility, that is, the proposed incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau island. The government appears determined to railroad the project though despite opposition to its location, and outdated, environmentally unfriendly technology. The project comes up for consideration in Legco in March for approval for funding which is believed to between HK$8-HK$13 billion. The government has apparently been telling legislators not to oppose the financing as the 'the incinerator is a necessary evil'. However, green groups that oppose the traditional mass-burn technology have been in touch with three firms that build waste systems using plasma arc technology. They are preparing a joint bid which is expected to come in well under the government's chosen scheme which includes reclaiming the equivalent of about 38 football pitches.
Ferrari puts the cap on it
Just when you thought there was nothing left to spend your money on - along comes Ferrari with an irresistible offer. 'Throughout the years, Ferrari has never ceased to be the most meticulous when designing and manufacturing each one of its signature sports cars,' its e-mail to customers burbles. Its new gizmo 'is an excellent example of an exquisite cosmetic upgrade that ultimately enhances the true uniqueness of your Ferrari'. And what is this wonderful upgrade? It's an aluminium tyre valve cap which comes in 'symbolic red, classic yellow and subtle black, allowing you to choose the colour that is most suitable for you and your car'. These little must-have gems can be had for HK$720 each. The price, we are told, includes fitment. If that seems steep, even for a Ferrari owner, then you can always buy a full anti-theft set off the internet for about US$5. But these would not be genuine Ferrari accessories.
This is like pulling teeth
The faculty of dentistry at the University of Hong Kong had to buy six virtual simulation systems for HK$1.5 million last year to train students, Ming Pao reported. The reason for this, according to one of the department's professors, was that it has become increasingly difficult to find real teeth for dental lessons as fewer teeth have been removed in recent years due to the public's increased awareness of dental protection.
Guo's misplaced enthusiasm
Interesting to see Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, going public with his view that the 300 blue-chip stocks on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges are good investments as their average historic price to earnings ratio is now less than 13 times. It's unusual for people in his position to express this sort of enthusiasm for the stock market in this way, since he's supposed to be regulating the market, not promoting it. Let's hope the markets continue to rise or else he's going to need a Henry Tang-style basement to avoid irate investors.