Thursday, July 23, 2009
The standard HK$200,000 per month (S$37,200) housing allowance for top bankers is gone or going in most cases.
Paid-for chauffeurs to tote executives and their families around the steep hills of Hong Kong are scarcer, as are free memberships to exclusive country, golf or dinner clubs that may otherwise cost more than HK$2.1 million to join.
Free private school education for the kids, roughly $10,000 (S$14,400) per child at international schools, is getting scaled back too.
And in another sign of lean times, corporate ships for pleasure cruises around Hong Kong's myriad beaches and outlying islands are getting auctioned off, with UBS AG among the financial institutions to recently set plans to part with its junk boat reserved for employees and clients.
Many banking executives from Wall Street and Europe still live a life of luxury in Asia. But for many others, the 'expat' life of perks is a fading phenomenon.
Starting last December, Morgan Stanley, like other Wall Street banks, began rolling housing benefits into salaries. New hires, in most cases, will not be granted housing allowances, sources inside the bank say.
Hong Kong's elite band of property agents, tasked with renting out the territory's most desired addresses including luxury condominiums and grand colonial mansions overlooking the city's iconic harbour, have been rubbing their wounds of late.
'My record was a HK$320,000 (rent per month) mansion that was around 4,000 square feet with a full sea view,' said a property specialist surnamed Lai who's helped senior foreign executives find luxury homes for the past 13 years.
Residential rental prices dropped, by some estimates, more than 30 per cent earlier this year. Prices have stabilised, and may soon rise, but are still nowhere near the levels reached in early 2008.
HSBC sold its junk boats several years ago but still owns bungalows spread throughout the region for off-sites and weekend getaways for employees lucky enough to be on top of the waiting list. -- REUTERS
NdR: I wish these expats could spend the rest of their days sitting on a ceramic bowl...
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
KUANTAN, MALAYSIA - A 32-year-old part-time model from Singapore charged with having a beer in a nightclub last year was ordered by the Syariah High Court yesterday to receive six strokes of the rotan.
Kartika Sari Sewi Shu-karno, who pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol in public when she made her first court appearance in December, was also fined RM5,000 (S$2038.50).
The model, who wore a blue baju kurung and black headscarf, kept her head down and was silent as judge Datuk Abdul Rahman Yunus read out the sentence. He said the accused could face a three-year jail term if she could not pay the fine while the rotan would be carried out by federal prison authorities.
He said the sentence was under Section 136 of the Pahang Islamic and Malay Traditional Practices Enactment 1982 (amendment 1987).
"The court reached the judgment after the accused pleaded guilty. We feel the sentence is fair after going through the prosecution's argument and since the rotan is provided for in the law.
"The rotan is aimed at making the accused repent and serves as a lesson to Muslims."
Kartika committed the offence at a hotel night club in Cherating and was arrested during a raid by a team from the state religious department at 1.20am on July 12, 2007.
Her lawyer Mohd Zuki Che Muhamad Ghani said he would file an application for a stay of execution pending an appeal.
This is the second time the Syariah Court here has imposed whipping on a female. The first was on a waitress and a man who were caught together with Kartika during the same operation in Cherating.
The 38-year-old from Kemaman, Terengganu, and the 22-year-old waitress from Selangor were also fined RM5,000 each and ordered to receive six strokes of the rotan.
However, the whipping has yet to be carried out in these cases which are pending appeal.
The sentence for consuming alcohol was made stiffer when the Islamic Religious Administration and Pahang Malay Tradition Enactment 1982 was amended in 1987.
Under Section 136 of the enactment, those who are found guilty can be fined up to RM5,000 or jailed a maximum of three years, or both, and sentenced to six strokes of the rotan.
Friday, July 17, 2009
The Associated Press, citing police, said at least four foreigners were killed in the explosions. Many people have been injured, said M. Halolo, a police officer on duty at the Setiabudi police station. A New Zealander was among two people seriously injured, AP said.
The explosions ripped the façade off the Ritz and glass and debris littered the street outside the neighboring hotels, the news agency said.
Indonesia was hit by bombings annually from 1999 to 2005 that left about 280 people dead and were blamed on Southeast Asian terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah.
The al-Qaeda-linked group is blamed for an attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003 that killed 12 people, a bomb explosion outside the Australian Embassy in the Indonesian capital in 2004 that killed at least nine and the 2002 attack on the island of Bali that killed 202 people, 88 of them Australians.
The Indonesian rupiah declined the most in two weeks after the explosions. The rupiah slid 0.8 percent to 10,200 per dollar as of 8:45 a.m. in Jakarta, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency reached 10,075 yesterday, the strongest since June 15.
Trading on the Indonesia Stock Exchange will open as normal, said Hilailah Suralaga, a spokeswoman at the bourse.
The Manchester United soccer team was scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on July 18 and was booked to stay at the Ritz Carlton, said Azwan Karim, media officer for the Indonesia Football Association.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
One minute and 50 seconds of the 18-rated film starring British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has been cut to make a version which can be seen by cinemagoers aged 15 and under, Universal Pictures announced on Monday.
The re-edited version will be released in cinemas in Britain on July 24.
The 18-certificate version, featuring a sado-masochistic orgy and full frontal nudity, topped the British box office in its first weekend of release.
"Bruno" was also the highest-grossing film on its first weekend in the United States, where it has an adult rating, taking 30.6 million dollars (22 million euros).
The scenes cut from new version feature Bruno and his boyfriend engaged in sexual acts. Another shows Bruno miming sexual activity while visiting a medium, and the third is of couples having sex at a swingers' party.
Universal Pictures has already cut a scene from all versions featuring Michael Jackson's sister La Toya because of fears it was in poor taste following the singer's death.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The Kooks go Go Karting - http://www.facebook.com/ex
The Kooks 3rd Album Writing Sessions in Marseilles - http://www.facebook.com/ex
The Kooks @ Bandwagon clubnight, Liverpool - http://www.facebook.com/ex
Art Rock Festival, France
Papillons De Nuit, France
Pinkpop, The Netherlands
Rockhal // Luxembourg
Ringlokschuppen // Germany
Rock Am Ring // Germany
Rock Im Park // Germany