Friday, May 29, 2009

What Did the Hong Kong Government Learn from the British?

I find it amazing that there is not more of an outcry here about the over-the-top pay and benefits of Hong Kong officials.

I wish that someone, anyone would raise this as a political issue here.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who believes that the HK Civil Service is way over paid

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Bye Mr. Potato Head

Joseph Yam announced that he will retire from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority this fall. What is the chronic political malcontent to do without names in high positions that are easy to make fun of? Who ever replaces him cannot possibly have that goofy hair and non-carbon-based life form lack of personality.

It is possible that they can answer questions better than he did, have some fiscal principals that they are willing to defend other than keeping the tycoons money safe. I admit that all of these are long shots but they are theoretically possible.

Suppose the new guy let's call him Mr. Lai, (given that this is Hong Kong he'd probably have a first name like "Gonna Tell" which would make him the perfect candidate for a government official) actually makes banks explain the risk to illiterate investors or requires investors that cannot read or write to have a proxy that can explain to them the risk involved?

Suppose Mr. Lai brings Hong Kong into line with other developed nations with rules against insider trading?

Suppose Mr. Lai initiates rules that require greater transparency in banking and finance charges?

Suppose Mr. Lai prohibits banks from colluding to keep their fees and charge exorbitantly high?

Well, if supposes were rose as they (Who ever they are) say, he'd immediately garner a massive popular following.

It would also mean that Mr. Lai would have to change his name because he'd be the only honest man in government.

It would also mean that the people who control the Hong Kong financial services sector had been snookered by an honest man.

In that case, maybe he wouldn't need to change his name.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who isn't a tycoon

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brazen Hussey's and Such

Was watching Jenny Lam pontificate on the TVB last night during the news. They showed Tony Chan the Fung Shui master that claims Nina Wong left him, not her family her fortune strolling into the courthouse though a forest of microphones with a big grin on his face. The wife leaned over and asked, "Does he have no shame?" She seemed incredulous that he would not be skulking around.

Lots of people seem to feel that way because the wife isn't the only one who I've heard commenting on his behavior. I find it odd that people would think that he'd behave any other way. After all there are only two choices with Tony Chan. Either he is telling the truth, in which case he has nothing to be skulky about. Or, he is trying to pull off a huge scam in which case he has more than his fair share of chutzpah and wouldn't want to look skulky so as to ruin his chances of stealing a 700 million. I go with the second option. He is a Fung Shui Master after all and Fung Shui makes Western Astrology look like a hard science. The Guy has to know that he is a fraud. He is evidently good at it. He also seems to enjoy what he does.

In other news Richard Li of PCCW was found guilty of trying to manipulate his stock buy back scheme yesterday. He should take the Tony Chan approach. Rather than buying back the PCCW shares he should simply come up with some way to take the shares. How about filing for bankruptcy? Tony Chan may very well, given the history of moronic decisions handed down by judges here in Hong Kong win his case. Not the least of those decisions was the one that gave Nina Wong her husband's fortune when she presented a hand written, unsigned, undated, unwitnessed will that contradicted one that was signed, dated and witnessed. Richard Li is at least making a cursory attempt to obey the law, just barely. In a sense I feel sorry for the guy. He can't help it if he is dumb as a sack of hammers. It doesn't take much brains to see that land line telephone companies are in trouble and that is the foundation of PCCW's business. They've added some cable TV and Internet but they are in a very competitive market.

I can sort of understand why he wanted to take his remaining cash and retire. Especially since he tried to sell the company last year and the government wouldn't let him since the buyer was an Australian. However, in Medieval time every alchemist in the world would have wanted to talk to Richard Li because they'd want his opposite. He seems to have an uncanny ability to turn Gold into dross. Paracelsus might have thought; "If I can reverse his polarity I might can turn lead to gold if he stands nearby."

That is a scheme Tony Chan might even approve of.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who isn't a tycoon

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hotel California - Hong Kong Style

The saga of the travelers quarantined the the Wan Chai Metro-Park hotel has been pretty amusing, unless you're one of the folks trapped there.

I can't really blame the Hong Kong government for the quarantine. It is actually the appropriate thing to do. I can blame them for the way they handled the events since they initiated the quarantine. I find it really funny that after trying to feed 300 people twinkies for breakfast and rice boxes for lunch and dinner everyday for a week they have now given them about $4000.00 HKD worth of coupons to HK Disneyland, Ocean Park, the Ng-Ping 360 and other tourist attractions. They aren't even free coupons but discounts. Do they really think that any of the tourist trapped in that hotel will EVER want to come back to Hong Kong? Holy Cow! If they believe that I've got a good deal on a bridge that is for sale in New York City!

They could have handled this much better. But, being bureaucrats trained by the British to simply follow rules and not think they didn't.

More than the government I blame the owners of the hotel (China Travel) and the manager. The manager, with the support of the owners should have gone door to door and talked to every guest (prisoner?) in the hotel. He should have simply said;

"I am sorry for this. It is beyond my control. But, while you are quarantined here please feel free to use the facilities, including the fitness room, the bar, room service, the pool, and restaurants. Free of charge. In fact, we are also going to provide a free buffet in the bar 24 hours a day for the duration of this quarantine. Please help yourself the food and drinks are all free. We will have the NBA playoffs or European Football matches on the big screen TV there as well. So come on down and relax."

You also have 60 minute of free telephone usage if you need to contact your family or friends overseas.

We want to make the best of a bad situation and we want you to come back. We want you to know that we appreciate your patronage of our hotel.

Oh, I almost forgot, we've organized a ballroom dance party in the banquet hall this evening. Come and waltz away the evening with us, there will be free champaign and appetizers until 2:00 AM "

That action would have bought the hotel chain more good will and created more customer loyalty than any amount of advertising. The manager should have then gone down stairs to the government and simply said:

"No rice boxes! No twinkies! My chief is here. I want you deliver what he asks for. We will feed our guest from our restaurant and you will pay for it. Your HES staff members that are assigned here are welcome to eat. The people in this hotel are my guest, not criminals. You will respect their need and desire and my judgment in this matter or I will have your head on a platter for supper"

Instead the hotel wanted to charge the guest for a weeks worth of rooms.

I am reminded of the last verse of the old Eagles song "Hotel California"

The last thing I remember, I was
running for the door.
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before.
"Relax," said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!

That could have been written about the Metro-Park Hong Kong

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who was Front Desk Manager, Night Auditor and Comptroller in a hotel