Monday, July 28, 2014

If I Want To Know Your Opinion, I'll Tell You What It Is

The latest organisation to misrepresent or at least, purportedly but without consultation, to represent its members' views, is the Hong Kong Institute of Directors, one of those buy-a-qualification, get-a-bottle-of-wine-if-you-find-a-member (really! - I quote - "As a token of appreciation for a member who successfully sponsors a new member, the Institute is pleased to present to the sponsor a bottle of wine of superb vintage") organisations.

From a circular issued today by its Council:
       The Council supports:
The selection of the Chief Executive and formation of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage developed in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (emphasis mine).
The Council disapproves of:
Any action to Occupy Central.
Admittedly, they have been sensible (cunning? weaselly?) enough not to state that they are representing their members (unlike the Big 4 accountants who were publicly slapped down by their staff) but in fact the Council only exists to represent its members so this is a mere subterfuge.
The debate over Occupy Central has been going on long enough that they could have canvassed their members' opinions. In fact, only last week, I am told, they sent out a questionnaire to all members including such questions as "Do members want more Happy-Hour networking session", but no mention of and hence no apparent Council interest in members' opinions on Occupy Central.
How does this fit into good corporate governance, I wonder?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tugging The Forelock

The FT reported last week that the placing of the anti-Occupy Central ad by the local offices of the Big 4 shoeshiners was indeed instigated by Beijing. This explains why the local offices didn't clear it with their head offices - in case they found themselves in the awkward position of having to say 'No' to China.

Thanks, boys - it's nice to know how principled your stand really was.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shine On

The Chinese ambassador to London has quoted with approval (in the FT) the stance of the Big 4 Shoe Shiners.

That leaves one question to be answered - were they put up to it by the Chinese in the first place?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Public Service Announcement

Patrons of this site are warned to watch out for these people - Internet Commercial Information Services Ltd.(or ICIS) - selling space in directories. The apparent links to the Times and the Sunday Times are persuasive, but the principal, one Martyn Cope, is the same person as the one linked to the Channel 7 "scheme" a few years back, under which punters coughed up around ten thousand quid a time in order to join an exclusive referral network, only to find a new meaning to the word exclusive, as in excluded from one's own money. It is almost exactly two years since Hong Kong companies were being offered these exclusive services.

Mr. Cope is currently in Hong Kong on a business trip.

Back then, there was a Mark Edmund doing the cold calling. Nowadays, it is a Mark Stephens. Plus ça change ...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Has Beans

I have never been a fan of the "big" accounting firms, even as their numbers have been whittled down from eight (when I was a youth) to the current four. My dealings with them over the years in Hong Kong have shown them to be not particularly good at their jobs, despite their fees being a multiple of those of smaller, more competent outfits. I came within a whisker of reporting one of the "Big 4" to the HKICPA for incompetence, bordering on negligence, a couple of years back, and the others are barely any better. So it is with a large dollop of schadenfreude that I see the local custodians of this particular licence to print money shoot themselves in their privileged feet.

The incomprehensible decision of the local branches of the four largest international accounting firms to get involved in politics by placing an ad in some of the Chinese papers (opposing Occupy Central) has backfired, in a number of ways, all of them predictable.

Firstly, they did not even get approval for their action from their head offices. Do they not realise that the global brand names of the firms, the intellectual property and the goodwill, do not belong to a few Hong Kong bean counters? As professionals (or even as amateurs), they should have a clear understanding of what is theirs and what is not; is there anything more basic than this?  But apparently they did not understand this .... unless they were operating on the principle that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission, in which case the placing of the ad moves from negligence to either recklessness or something even more culpable.

The international head offices of the four firms were swift to disown the actions of their renegade Hong Kong associates, saying that the first they had heard of the ads was through the press. If this had been done by, say, the local head of Coca Cola, one could imagine a quick recall to Atlanta for severance talks. Indeed, at least one of the firms has already called one of its senior local partners to London for 'talks'.

Next, their staff quickly rejected any suggestion that the ad represented their views by taking out an ad of their own, disowning, as the head offices had done, the local partners' views. The partners' views are therefore exposed as merely those of an elite within an elite, hiding behind a brand name they do not even own. Stupid or what? And all they have achieved, apart from a bit of PRC arse-licking, is to show their firms up as being divided, like the rest of Hong Kong, between the have-a-lots and the don't-have-so-muches, and to polarise Hong Kong just that little bit more. All so very predictable to anyone who thought it through, at least anyone without a silver spoon up their jacksie.

And international comment (at least two articles in the FT, a feature on the Australian Channel news programme, condemnation by Chris Patten and by Anson Chan) has focussed on the inadvisability of the ad rather than any underlying issues. Again, all the ads have achieved is to make the local partners look silly, and to damage the respective accounting brands.

But perhaps the intention was just to kowtow to China for short-term personal advantage, and hang everyone else, in which case being slated by Patten and Chan would be a plus. Except that it is well-known that China is busy grooming its own competitors to the Big 4. And the cold wind of competition is already having its effect on their super-profits in Hong Kong: the local partners of at least one of the Big 4 recently took 20% salary cuts.

The writing's on the wall, boys: maybe you yourselves should stop "occupying Central" and start trimming your sails.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rolf Harris - Greatest Living Australian

For those down under (ooh, err!) reeling to the news that the greatest living Australian has been convicted of kiddie fiddling, here is a tribute to their erstwhile hero, loosely based on the greatest of all Australian songs, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.

(Explanatory note to Australians - this is a joke.)

There's an old Australian entertainer, lying, lying
And he gets himself up on one elbow
And he turns to his mates, who are all gathered 'round him
And he says

Download me loads of child porn, Sean
Download me loads of child porn
I need to shoot off my spawn, Sean
So download me loads of child porn

All together now
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown

Make me cock a bit hard, Barb
Make me cock a bit hard
Please don't go telling your pa, Barb
Just make my cock a bit hard

All together now
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown

Don’t go growing no pubes, Jude
Don’t go growing no pubes
I like it when it’s still nude, Jude
Oh don’t go growing no pubes

All together now
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown

Let old Rolfie go loose, Bruce
Let old Rolfie go loose
He promises no more abuse, Bruce
So let old Rolfie go loose

All together now
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown

Please don’t jail me too much, Judge
Please don’t jail me too much
In jail they’ll be packing my fudge, Judge
So please don’t jail me too much

All together now
Try me in Southwark Crown Court

Try me in Southwark Crown
Try me in Southwark Crown Court
Try me in Southwark Crown