Popeye Fung Siu-ning, veteran news anchor, Asia Television, Hong Kong (joined 1992, laid off February 2009)
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7 optical illusions
15 hours ago
"He's a great player and great players are tough to play against," he said. "He's young, so you still have to figure him out a little bit. He's changing his game as time goes by. Every time you play him, he plays a bit different.
"Whereas for me, it's different. He knows what to expect. That's the advantage of a youngster. There are disadvantages in that they're a bit more inconsistent but he's been very consistent, at a young age, which is impressive to see."
Jan 29, 2010
I refer to the letter by Tom Grindy ("Allowance for which home?", January 27). Mr Grindy appears unaware that native English-speaking teachers are on the same salary scale as our local colleagues.
The additional Education Bureau "special allowance" compensates for the extra costs - financial and otherwise - that the vast majority of expatriate educators face. Meanwhile, local teachers benefit from job security and pension plans.
NETs have a unique and highly valued role in Hong Kong schools and the wage and benefits they receive are not only fair but necessary in order to attract and retain teachers from abroad. Furthermore, the bureau has a surplus and recently handed some of its budget back to the government. Were the allowance scaled down, the NET scheme would likely collapse under a mass exodus.
Tom Grundy, Jordan
"Wherever there're* Chinese, there'll be god worshipping. And wherever there is god worshipping, there will be paper offerings."
Sharapova, 22, was a shadow of her former self in a 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4 defeat to Maria Kirilenko. Seeded 14, she paid the price for opting to play only exhibition tournaments in Thailand and Hong Kong as a warm-up to the season's opening grand slam.
Reuters in Beijing
Jan 14, 2010
China's triple Olympic champion Ma Lin has been urged by his coach to bring a quick end to a five-year marriage that the world number three claims not to have known he was party to.
The clandestine marriage was first exposed in the mainland media last October when Ma was reported to have initiated divorce proceedings against little-known television actress Zhang Yi. The 29-year-old Beijing Olympic singles champion said he did not know he had been married despite undergoing a legal registration with Zhang in 2004.
"I thought without a wedding banquet, the registration alone did not mean a formal marriage," he told Chinese media.
China's head coach, Liu Guoliang, said that unless Ma brought the divorce case to an end soon, his future in table tennis would be in danger.
"I gave him a deadline," Liu told Beijing Daily. "His career will be destroyed if he cannot sort it out before our next training camp in April."
Ma, who also won team gold at the Beijing Games as well as the men's doubles title in Athens in 2004, was knocked out in the first round of the ITTF Pro Tour Finals in Macau last week.
"With a domestic problem, even the greatest athlete like Tiger Woods had no other choice but taking an 'indefinite break' from playing," Liu added. "I don't want to see Ma like that."
This is not the first time that China's conservative table tennis officials have become involved in Ma's love life. In 2004, fellow player Bai Yang was exiled from the national team for allegedly being Ma's girlfriend - a few months before Ma secretly married Zhang.
Jan 10, 2010
After a tournament, US tennis player Andre Agassi once said that Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov should take his pay cheque and go and buy some perspective with it.
It's hard to know if Kafelnikov's attitude towards life has changed thanks to his advice, but the Russian was back in the cash yesterday in the Hong Kong Tennis Classic at Victoria Park. The problem was nobody knew exactly how much he received.
Kafelnikov, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, Sweden's Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang and Venus Williams of the US were the star attractions.
But as has been the case over the years, their appearance money was not made public. They do not play for prize money.
The tournament lost its title sponsor this year after JB Group, which came on board in 2008, pulled out of the event. It left the organisers, Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association, looking for a backer.
Having found it hard to find sponsors with sufficient funding because of the recession, they applied to the government's HK$100 million Mega Events Fund. Organisers refused to say how much they had received, but it is understood that they asked for HK$5.5 million.
It also did no harm to the funding bid that the Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association has such notable members within its ranks. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen is its patron-in-chief, while gaming tycoon, Stanley Ho Hung-sun is a vice- patron-in-chief.
Tournament co-director Brian Catton, however, dismissed the idea.
"I don't think that the likes of Mr Tang or Mr Ho would have any influence in this instance," he said.
"They would remain totally removed and impartial. With an issue like this everything is throughly scrutinised and everyone has to go through very strict criteria to get the funding."
One sponsor whose cash till was still ringing was Stella Artois. Sales of the beer were up by 20 per cent compared with last year.
"What has happened is that we've been selling more jugs of beer than pints and it has made a big difference," Stella Artois' marketing manager, Kitty Cheung Wing-yan, said.
Regardless of the bad weather, the tournament played out over the week to a near capacity audience of 3,700 people each night.
But tennis fan Michael Yip Yau-kar, was annoyed at Russian star Marat Safin's non-appearance.
"It's very disappointing as I'm sure organisers knew well before this that he wasn't playing and could have done a lot better job of letting the fans know sooner," Yip said.
But this aside, with another full house for the last day's play yesterday and the next-door tennis village also well attended, local fans were only too happy to be seen splashing their cash in style whatever the players were being paid.
"A relatively large head, predominance of the brain capsule, large and low-lying eyes, bulging cheeks region, short and thick extremities, a springy elastic consistency, and clumsy movements".
Jan 07, 2010
It is a universal phenomenon that sex sells. But, in Japan, even sex has to take a back seat when it comes to advertising in commercial media and popular culture in general. Few actresses and models appeal unless they are cute. The cult of cuteness reins over the land to such an extent that one cannot talk sensibly about contemporary Japanese culture without considering the question of what it means to be cute. The problem has been haunting me since my recent holiday in the land of the rising sun. One reason is that more than any other country, even America, Japan has a predominant influence on Hong Kong's pop culture. We are, after all, highly derivative. What, then, is cuteness?
All my life, I have only come across three discussions of cuteness that actually make sense. In his book Guerrilla Metaphysics, contemporary philosopher Graham Harman takes a brief excursion from more serious metaphysical issues to consider the nature of cuteness. He writes: "Cute objects are either lovely, or else they are delightfully absorbed in some technique that we ourselves take for granted. That is to say, certain actions are performed by certain worldly agents with a regularity and ease devoid of any hesitation. Horses gallop, donkeys eat, humans write letters, and native speakers of a language use it fluently.
"The labours of such agents become `cute' when they are slightly underequipped for their task: a newborn horse trying to prance on its skinny, awkward legs; a sweet little donkey trying to eat a big pile of hay with its sweet little mouth and tongue; a child handing us a thank-you note with imperfect grammar; a foreigner misusing our language in slightly incorrect but delightfully vivid fashion. In each of these cases, the cute agent is one that makes use of implements of which it is not fully in command."
Underequipment among juvenile beings captures what I think is the Western notion of cuteness, exemplified by the kind of cute animals you find on postcards and calendars. But it doesn't quite do it for the Japanese variety of Hello Kitty, My Melody and GothLoli, or Gothic Lolita.
Let's now consider the theories of the biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Konrad Lorenz. Though they were not considering cuteness per se, they serve as an indispensable guide. Lorenz famously argued that the physical features of human babies work as "behavioural cues" for adults. Their immature features trigger responses such as disarming tenderness, affection and nurturing. There may well be other responses such as annoyance and cruelty, but Lorenz was talking about most people, not the odd psychopath who gets a kick out of harming babies.
These features, wrote Lorenz, include: "A relatively large head, predominance of the brain capsule, large and low-lying eyes, bulging cheeks region, short and thick extremities, a springy elastic consistency, and clumsy movements," - the last a la Harman. Such juvenile features are also exhibited by the young of many animals, triggering similarly protective responses. That's why we find animals cute. Gould and Konrad called this "a biologically inappropriate response".
Cartoonists, east and west, instinctively understand and capitalise on it with their animated characters. As a result, we have practically cartoonised the entire animal kingdom. In one of his most delightful essays, Gould considered the evolving features of the world's most famous cartoon character - Mickey Mouse. From the time he debuted in the 1928 Steamboat Willie, his features went through a progressive reverse and became increasingly juvenile. This was matched by his growing popularity, which eventually conquered the world.
Not all cartoon characters are clumsy; Pokemon, for example, has superpowers. But they all exhibit physically infantile or juvenile features, otherwise, they haven't a chance to become popular. This theory also offers clues as to why it is fashionable to act cute in Japan, and why large segments of its fashion industry cater to making women cute and sexy. Combining sex and cuteness in cartoons is (almost) a taboo in the west, but it's as natural as sin in Japan. But this is a topic for another column.
Alex Lo is a senior writer at the Post. firstname.lastname@example.org
Toh Han Shih
Jan 05, 2010
Qin Hui, a mainland businessman and nightclub owner, is transferring 26.73 per cent of the shares of the firm that owns Sing Pao, a local Chinese newspaper, to Carson Yeung Ka-sing, apparently giving the owner of Birmingham City Football Club majority control of the publication.
In an announcement today, Qin does not explicitly say why the transfer is being made. However, in April 2008, Yeung lent HK$60 million to SMI Publishing Group, for which Qin pledged to Yeung a 26.37 per cent stake in SMI, which can be forfeited if the company fails to meet performance targets.
In his announcement, Qin said he gave up his claims to an unspecified HK$100 million debt owed to him, would transfer his 26.73 per cent stake in SMI Publishing to Yeung, and "let Yeung have more room to run and expand the business of Sing Pao".
Before the transfer, Qin owned 63.34 per cent of the GEM-listed company that owns Sing Pao, while Yeung owned the rest, according to the stock exchange website.
In a statement in the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) today, Qin says, "it is regrettable if this newspaper [Sing Pao] has to cease publication due to dissension among shareholders", referring to himself and Yeung, the company's only two shareholders.
On September 9, the board of SMI Publishing removed Qin's younger brother, Qin Hong, Wang Fei and Jiang Jinsheng as directors "with immediate effect", because "they were not performing their duties and affecting the harmonious working relationship of the board", according to an SMI announcement.
Qin Hui took over Sing Pao in 2004. Qin Hong was appointed chairman and executive director of SMI Publishing in 2006.
In November last year, SMI Publishing was served a winding-up petition by Kenny Leung Chi-man over HK$1.69 million which the firm owed Leung. The petition will be heard in the High Court on January 20.
"Of course, our newspaper will not close down," said Rosetti Yip, who was appointed chief executive of the firm on September 28 last year.
Yeung acquired a stake in SMI Publishing in 2008 and took over Birmingham City, an English Premier League football club, for HK$731 million in October last year.
SMI Publishing has consistently lost money since 2005.
The company is applying for a resumption of the trading of its shares, which has been suspended since April 28, 2005.
On August 15, 2008, the company admitted late payment of wages to employees.
According to mainland and Western media reports, Qin testified in a mainland court that he offered almost 18.68 million yuan (HK$21.22 million) in bribes to Li Peiying, a former chairman of Beijing Capital International Airport (SEHK: 0694), during Li's trial for bribery and embezzlement.
Li was found guilty and executed in August last year.
Jan 02, 2010
The photograph that appeared yesterday was of bodybuilder Chan Yan-to arriving at Eastern Court to face a bribery charge and not Hong Kong and China Bodybuilding and Fitness Association chairman Chan Siu-man, as stated in the accompanying caption. Chan Siu-man also appeared in the same case, on bribery and fraud charges.
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