Alvan Wok Fai, solicitor, Hong Kong
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Thursday, June 23, 2011
TVB knew that its general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan was acting beyond his usual duties when the station gave him the green light to appear at a commercial event, the District Court was told.
Chan, 51, looked calm on the second day of the trial in which the Independent Commission Against Corruption has alleged he and two co-defendants deceived TVB out of HK$960,000, with Chan's alleged involvement totaling HK$412,000.
Television actor and stalwart Chan supporter Wong Hei was in court to hear the evidence.
Au Kwok-hang, a manager at Sino Estates Management, which oversees Olympian City, accepted a suggestion by the defense that TVB arranged a program producer and scriptwriter for meetings with Sino for Chan's performance during a sideshow in the runup to a New Year's Eve countdown event at the end of 2009.
The mall did not contact TVB as it knew that neither Chan nor Wayne Lai Yiu-cheung - a freelance artist - were under management contract as were the other TVB artists.
A contract to ensure Chan and Lai's performance in a live Be my Guest sideshow was signed between Sino and Idea Empire Advertising and Production - run by co-defendant Edthancy Tseng Pei- kun, 28, who the industry knew represented Chan.
Another co-defendant, Wilson Chan Wing-shuen, is facing one charge.
Irene So Kit-lin, Au's superior as manager of retail marketing and promotions, agreed with a suggestion made by senior counsel Joseph Tse, acting for Chan, that TVB knew Chan and Lai were not part of the original deal valued at HK$1.3 million.
"Did the mall have to notify TVB what guests it found, as TVB had the final say in the countdown?" asked Wong Ching-yue, senior counsel for Tseng. "Yes," So answered.
On another alleged offense, which involved a book signing event on February 7, 2010, Au said the idea was initiated by IEAP, which guaranteed five leading artists would appear.
In return, the mall exempted venue fees, administration costs and relevant facilities, which could amount to HK$64,300, and agreed to pay TVB HK$30,000 for airtime and other expenditure.
Shida Yeung Mei-po, communications director of Ma Belle Jewellery, the February event sponsor, said it paid IEAP HK$300,000 for the appearance of five artists and for a promotional Chan video that would mention several name brands.
Staff from IEAP are expected to testify today.
"Everyday, I start off my day earlier than my staff, and [go home] after them. Doing more work than everyone else earns their respect."
Monday, May 30, 2011
Resina Wong is a 20-year veteran of the Hong Kong property industry, having started off as a trainee at a local developer before joining Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) in 1990.
The local property market, especially the retail sector, is in a constant state of flux. It is vital for developers to keep abreast of changes and always have a bevy of potential clients who can rent out soon-to-be vacated premises.
"This is why I need to get out and meet many people," says Wong. "I never feel bored in my job."
Like most other women, Wong loves to shop. "I need to keep myself updated. I go shopping to malls seven days a week and I enjoy it."
As 1881 Heritage, a Cheung Kong project, often hosts large art exhibitions, Wong has used the opportunity to get to know many local and foreign artists.
Starting off as a trainee, the now 47-year-old executive worked her way to the top. "The key is to keep learning while enjoying the work," she said.
"Everyday, I start off my day earlier than my staff, and [go home] after them. Doing more work than everyone else earns their respect."
Wong is big on communication with her colleagues and with other departments of Cheung Kong.
"A company is like an orchestra. The leader is like the conductor. The members have to coordinate among themselves before they can play a beautiful piece.
"It's useless to rely on just one or two outstanding individuals," says Wong.
Finally, the fashion news: Venus Williams is wearing a lace jumpsuit with visible zips and a skinny gold belt. Kimiko Date-Krumm is wearing... really well.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Students are set to develop a rather skewed view of both civil and human rights, if the opinions of several teachers are anything to go by.
A survey of 791 liberal studies teachers from 255 schools last year saw more than a third backing police use of torture to get confessions, while nearly half felt courts should pay more heed to public opinion than the rule of law.
Leung Yan-wing, who led the survey conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education, blamed the results on conservatism among some teachers and the apparent apathy to human rights over the past 10 years.
The survey laid special stress on liberal studies - introduced as a compulsory subject in all secondary schools under the new 3-3-4 system but one without a fixed syllabus.
Leung said the results are shocking and reflect how the rights awareness of generations to come may be eroded.
"I am very worried about the mind- sets of teachers and how this will affect the next generation," he said.
Leung suggested that after the promised universal suffrage comes into effect in 2017, the government pay more attention to how teachers think and what is being taught in schools.
Sun Kei Secondary School liberal studies teacher Hui Shing-yau urged firmer guidelines on the subject.
Survey finds many liberal studies instructors value social stability over personal freedoms
Jun 09, 2011
Many of Hong Kong's liberal studies teachers find the use of torture acceptable in police investigations and believe social stability should come before individual liberties, according to a survey result described as shocking by a teachers' union.
The survey, conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education and sponsored by the Quality Education Fund, interviewed more than 700 liberal studies teachers from 255 secondary schools last year.
It found that 35 per cent of the teachers agreed that the use of torture by police in obtaining evidence was acceptable, while half said they were willing to give up personal liberties for social stability.
Fung Wai-wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, described the findings as shocking. "It is indisputable that torture should not be used during interrogation. We ought to find out why there is such a belief among teachers," he said.
Education sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong said the result pointed to a gap in the education system. "Civic education should focus on universal values. We should not give up on these values," he said. "Teachers should know of and insist on these values so they can teach students to insist on them themselves."
Liberal studies entered the senior secondary academic structure during a review of the education system and became a compulsory subject for those studying for the Diploma of Secondary Education. The first batch of pupils started the subject in 2009.
Unlike languages, science and other mainstream subjects, the teachers do not have a fixed syllabus and critics have complained about the ambiguity of subject guidelines.
Researcher Leung Yan-wing, from the institute's centre for governance and citizenship, said the findings reflected the fact that some teachers were conservative.
"There are more open-minded teachers but as a matter of fact there are also a group of people who believe in the mainland way," Fung said, adding that society should guard against erosion of the fundamental values of democracy and human rights.
HKMAO chief evokes memories of the last colonial governor with a sweet-toothed trip to Tin Shui Wai
Jun 15, 2011
They say a week is a long time in politics, in which case 18 years must be an eternity.
That is the time that has elapsed between the arrival in the city of two senior political figures who could not be more different.
In Hong Kong politics though, some things never change - egg tarts.
Yesterday, Beijing's top man on Hong Kong affairs, Wang Guangya , went on a walkabout at a Tin Shui Wai market, immediately evoking memories of Hong Kong's last colonial governor, Chris Patten.
During his tenure, Patten was affectionately known as fei pang or "fatty Patten", largely due to his love of Hong Kong's famed artery-choking tarts.
The man who occupied Wang's position as director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office at that time took a slightly less charitable view of London's last man in Hong Kong.
Depending which version of history you believe, Patten's nemesis at the time, Lu Ping , egged on by state media, variously tagged the governor a "prostitute", "a sinner of 1,000 years" and a "tango dancer" for what they saw as his controversial democratic reforms.
This time round, Beijing's man had no such niceties to deal with. Democratic reforms were the last thing on his public agenda.
Indeed, accompanied by Secretary for Transport and Housing, Eva Cheng, his visit was welcomed by Wong Loi Hei, a resident on Tin Yan Estate, who said: "I'm really excited. I woke up at six this morning just to make myself ready." Wang also made a lasting impression on Siu Ping, the owner of a food stall. Siu said: "He seems like a very nice guy. It was a pleasure to meet him."
Others were less impressed. One meat stall owner said: "If he really cared, he should have asked whether we were leading hard lives, instead of asking where my meat was from"
After leaving the market, Wang looked at an empty 400 square foot flat on Ching Hoi Estate before arriving in Sha Tin to see the new headquarters building of rural affairs body the Heung Yee Kuk.
He was greeted and shown around by kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat.
Inti Tsui Kar-on, public relations consultant and co-owner of Dirty Laundry, a retail shop that sells casual wear along with providing a tattoo and piercing service, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Despite salary survey results, wage increases for lower grades to match that of middle-ranked workers
Jun 08, 2011
Lower ranked government workers in Hong Kong's 160,000-strong civil service are to get a bigger pay rise than they initially thought.
Instead of receiving a pay rise of 5.16 per cent as expected, junior government staff will get 6.16 per cent more, the same as middle-ranking civil servants, the Civil Service Bureau said yesterday after the Executive Council endorsed the pay rise.
The 5.16 per cent figure had been suggested by the annual pay trends survey, on which civil service pay rises are based. But the chief executive and Executive Council decided to invoke a "bring-up" arrangement, under which staff on lower pay grades see their wage rises match those of better-paid staff.
"Under the `bring-up' arrangement, the pay adjustment rate for civil servants in the lower salary band may, subject to the decision of the Chief Executive in Council, be brought up to the net pay trend indicators for the middle salary band," a bureau spokesman said.
The bureau said the pay offers were based on the pay trend survey, the local economy, cost of living, the government's fiscal position, pay claims and morale of civil servants.
The pay trend survey involves 116 private organisations, each with at least 50 staff.
A 7.24 per cent wage rise will be offered to civil servants in the upper salary band, in line with the survey.
Eddie Ng Hak-kim, a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management's executive council, said the civil service pay rise would not affect private sector pay.
"The private sector will only consider its own business environment, competiveness and prospects when determining wage increases," he said. Many workers in the private sector received a generous pay rise last year, reflected mostly in the year-end bonus.
He was, however, concerned about the pay rise for junior staff.
"The wages of junior staff in the government is already way higher than that of those in the private sector. The gap is growing even bigger now," he said.
The Federation of Civil Service Unions, which is mainly made up of rank-and-file civil servants, welcomed the wage increase.
"It will be a huge boost to civil service morale," said its chief executive, Leung Chau-ting. "With present inflation at about 4 per cent, such an increase can really help to improve our quality of life."
"[Lawyer Paul] Loughran told the court that So [Kam-tong] wished to change his plea as he was remorseful for his crime and had become a Christian."
Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what we are told
Religious dogma (or religious morality) is doing what we are told, regardless of what is right
"We are more vulnerable to religious belief when we are powerless ... and we're looking for an attachment figure [a caretaker] and social community."
Convicted murderer changes his plea to guilty during a retrial over the death of an airline stewardess
Chris Ip and Austin Chiu
Jun 02, 2011
The killer of a Thai tourist whose decomposing body was found on top of an air duct in Revenue Tower was handed a second life prison term yesterday after he admitted strangling an air hostess.
So Kam-tong's guilty plea came part-way through his retrial on a charge of murdering Yau Hiu-yin, 21, in Tai Po on her way home from work early on May 15, 2008.
The retrial was ordered by the Court of Appeal in October after lawyers for So, who claimed police had used violence to make him talk, said the prosecution had not told them about a similar allegation by the victim's former boyfriend, Chu Wing-keung.
Tsang Shuk-yin, a female detective who was accused of beating So's chest and grabbing his testicles, was being cross-examined during the morning session at the Court of First Instance yesterday. During the lunch break, So and his lawyer, Paul Loughran, decided on the plea change.
So, 27, strangled Yau after getting her ATM pin number and later extracted a ransom of HK$100,000 from her parents by leading them to believe she was still alive.
Yau's decomposing body was found in a culvert near Lam Tsuen River a week after her death.
Police traced the ransom money to So's family home and arrested him. He initially pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, saying he had only meant to choke her until she was unconscious.
Detectives turned up information that led them to uncover his involvement in the killing of tourist Charitar Kamolnoranath in 2005.
Loughran told the court that So wished to change his plea as he was remorseful for his crime and had become a Christian. In addition to the life term, So was sentenced to five years and four months' jail for blackmail.
So worked as an air-conditioning tradesman, decorator and waiter before his arrest on May 22, 2008, for Charitar's murder. The investigation into that death lasted more than 2 1/2 years, during which time So also killed Yau. He was handed a separate life sentence in March last year.
Charitar, the 40-year-old daughter of a prominent gemstone dealer, was robbed, stabbed with a kitchen knife and suffocated in Revenue Tower in Wan Chai in October 2005. Her body was found on top of an air duct more than a week later, near the machine room of the Environmental Protection Department.
So allegedly went up and down in the same lift waiting for a target. He dragged Charitar to a utility room where he killed her.
He pleaded not guilty, but a Court of First Instance jury convicted him of murder.
Referring to Yau's death when sentencing So for the murder of Charitar, Madam Justice Clare-Marie Beeson said the Thai woman had been a random victim but "clearly, you developed your scheme after you committed [the first murder]".
Dobie Lam Kwok-keung (Mr), Hong Kong (security guard who throttled his ex-girlfriend unconscious in a sudden fit of rage; jailed for 54 months for GBH)
see 0203 HKSAR Name of the Day (for feminine form)
"Reiki doesn't require anything special. Just place your hands on anyone you want to heal. You can use it on your family members or yourself."
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
As a physiotherapist, Ivy Mok Ka-pik is in the business of healing. The 31-year- old has a bachelor's degree in physiotherapy from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University but she was eager to add to her knowledge.
"Some of my friends took a reiki course and told me how good it was. As I was interested in alternative therapy, I thought reiki would be helpful in hands- on treatment," she said.
After returning from a two-day "attunement" course, Mok tested to see if the technique worked. "I had a client with chronic back pain. She had tried physiotherapy and acupuncture for a year but with no significant improvement. So I gave her two sessions of nothing but reiki.
"After the second session she called me up and asked me: 'What did you do? All I saw was you putting your hand on my back. But today I woke up and the pain had disappeared.' So I knew it was working."
So what is reiki? According to the International Center for Reiki Training, it is a Japanese technique developed by Mikao Usui in 1922 for stress reduction and also healing.
Practitioners lay on hands to transfer qi, or life-force energy. It is based on the principle that we all have qi running through us - the more we have the happier and healthier we feel. If our qi is low, we fall ill or feel stressed.
Mok has been a physiotherapist for nine years and has been practicing reiki for two. But you don't have to be a professional healer to benefit from the technique, she said. "Many of the friends who took the course aren't therapists. Reiki doesn't require anything special. Just place your hands on anyone you want to heal. You can use it on your family members or yourself. I don't feel tired so easily now that I practice it."
She has met her share of skeptics, of course. "I tell them be open and pay attention to how they feel, not what they think. Most patients don't get any special feeling during a session but find they have recovered after that."
Mok mostly uses the technique in addition to her other therapies. "I don't think you can be a therapist using only reiki."
During the session, she lays her hands on the patient and taps into both their qis. "Sometimes, I feel abnormal pain and discomfort on body parts other than what a patient has told me and I will ask. I've had patients asking me in surprise: 'How did you know I have a migraine?'"
Usually, Mok uses reiki for chronic cases - such as when a patient has tried different treatments without results. "It's like a last resort."
You can learn more about reiki, yoga, pilates, astrology, nia technique, ayurveda, qi gong and meditation at the Fifth Evolution Asia Yoga Conference, to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on June 9 to 12. The conference, which is sponsored by Pure Yoga, offers almost 200 classes for all levels, with over 60 different styles of yoga presented by more than 50 world-renowned faculty members.
Shopaholics are also catered for - a more than 20,000-square-foot Yoga Bazaar selling yoga products, books, DVDs and CDs. Open to the public, it will also hold yoga demonstrations and events.
Five stars called as prosecution witnesses in station manager Stephen Chan's corruption and fraud case
May 25, 2011
Five TVB actresses will give evidence against the station's general manager, Stephen Chan Chi-wan, in his corruption and fraud trial.
Charmaine Sheh Sze-man, Tavia Yeung Yi, Sharon Chan Man-chi, Skye Chan Sin-yeung and Shirley Yeung would be called as prosecution witnesses, prosecutor Alain Sham Chung-ping said after a closed-door pre-trial review in the District Court.
The five actresses were named as victims in a charge stemming from the launch of a book written by Stephen Chan at the Olympian City shopping mall.
It is alleged that Stephen Chan, 51, and co-accused Tseng Pei-kun, 28, Chan's former assistant, conspired to defraud the five women by asking them to attend the book signing session free of charge. The two accused allegedly concealed from the five that organiser Idea Empire Advertising and Production Company - of which Tseng was a director - received HK$300,000 from a sponsor and deprived the five of their reward.
Stephen Chan, Tseng and Wilson Chan Wing-shuen, 63, the head of business development for TVB's marketing and sales division, face a total of five charges in relation to alleged bribery and fraud.
The trio were in court yesterday when lawyers dealt with facts that they could agree on. The three were released on HK$100,000 bail, on condition that they do not contact, interfere with or influence the witnesses in relation to the case.
Stephen Chan was represented by Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC.
The trial is set to start on June 1. About 30 witnesses, including managerial staff at TVB and artists, will be called to testify.
Stephen Chan faces three charges of receiving HK$112,000 from Tseng to participate in a show entitled Be My Guest as part of a New Year's Eve countdown at Olympian City.
Tseng and Wilson Chan jointly face a charge of conspiring to defraud TVB of HK$550,000, arising from a HK$5.2 million contract between Melco Crown hotel in Macau and TVB between September and December 2009.
Fung shui master released on HK$20 million bail after court hears formal charges that he wrote the will used in the court battle for Wang's billions
May 27, 2011
Fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen was yesterday charged with forging the will on which he based his epic failed probate battle for the billion-dollar fortune of late businesswoman Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum ...