19 January 2008

East is East

Actually, that is a thoroughly scurrilous headline, implying that we do things in oily fashion out east. I should be ashamed and confess myself unworthy of the maternal Cantonese blood that chugs through me.

Let me draw strength from Great Leader Mao's 'Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China' and take comfort that, with the Marxist-Leninist weapon of criticism and self-criticism, I can get rid of a bad style and keep the good.

So saying, let me leap straight to a report in the Hong Kong Standard about dodgy recruitment goings-on in my old alma mater the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Seems that someone was appointed to a key position in the time-honoured fashion of contacts and favouritism instead of following boring regulations ... so?? Like when was the right person for a job *ever* elected through fuddy-duddy pedestrian *rules*? And in fast-paced Hong Kong? Jun hai!

Just reading CEO Tony Lau's report to Leg Co makes me long to be back there in the fray:

Seems there was no record of the recruitment of Planning/Marketing honchette Jackie Tong Wai-ling having "followed normal procedures."

I should think not. They've got a job to do and yesterday to do it by. Who's got time to hang around following 'normal procedures'?

Besides, Jacqueline had impeccable qualifications, having previously worked with former executive director of Standard Chartered Bank, Clara Chong Ming-wah.

Mao would have been proud of Ms Chong's admission that she had 'recommended' Tong for the job BUT (my CAPS)had not in any way been involved in the 'recruitment process', which she had handed to the human resources chief.

Ahem. I think we know the power of 'recommendation' and I also suspect that HR managers know which side their noodles are buttered on.

It gets better.

Another focal point of what sounds to have been a difficult meeting was the emergence of 'contradictory versions' of what happened two years ago concerning a HK$24,167 (US$3,095.43) business trip to Europe that had earlier been disapproved" (my itals).

Former PR manager Claire Lau (who would have been my boss had I hung on) repeatedly insisted she had boarded a plane to Paris on May 16, 2006 without knowing the trip had been rejected by then deputy executive director Grace Lee Chan.

It gets better still as Lau goes on that when she approached her supervisor she was told there was no problem. "I will talk to Lee," quoth Lau, meaning her former boss, Cynthia Leung Mei-bo.

(Gosh all these names and hyphens get confusing).

Lau goes on: there had been a search for her application form (which Lee had rejected and which had 'gone missing') Hmm, how ultra convenient, and how VERY unlike the tourism powerhouse I recall where not even a cockroach in triplicate went misfiled let alone *missing*.

Back to Ms Leung, who said she could recall neither the statement attributed to her nor the search for the form.

To cap it all, Leung said she did not know Lee had disapproved the trip until June that year when Lau had returned.

Committee chairman Phillip Wong Yu-hong wondered why no one had even considered telephoning Lee. The hearing continues.

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