Generation 40s – 四十世代

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穿衣合度 超衣俠道

Hong Kong Economic Journal
P24 | 專家之言 | 企業杏林 | By 何華真
2011-07-02

二十多年前,香港經濟剛起飛,社會由規範服(西裝、工衣),進化到另類服式,以破格為大前提,為時髦象徵,不時以消閒樣、「爛撻撻」樣作為有型的指標,但這種服式,未必人人心服。

話說在八十年代,有一漢城(首爾)商務團,由一銀行家帶隊,這位隊長五短身裁,但每到晚上就當自己上艇,短袖圓領汗衣、短褲、白飯魚踩踭,白天探訪完企業,晚上帶隊去當時雌性服務商雲集的Lotte 的士高選美,當時大韓民國尚有戒嚴令,若女士十時後在你的酒店未走,就只能陪你到明天吃早餐,中途是走不了的,所以美女投宿也要找主好人家。

隊長酒過三巡,選美完畢,然後找個小弟向選中的美女說項,安排細則,怎知小弟直話直傳,說是美女嫌隊長穿得「不好」,拒絕起行,銀行家有錢也買不了,當下氣得不得了。

受過教訓以後,每年外遊,三十多度氣溫下,仍然襯衣領帶,西裝筆挺。

最高境界的不屑

現在全球名貴旅遊崛起,都是唯中國新富是瞻,無論澳門、新加坡、杜拜,服務員打照面就跟你說普通話,現在筆者已練好反應機制,不是用英文就是用粵語回覆,免得我老人家要啓動第三語韌件,拖慢我腦袋的處理能力。

見到國內的富戶,穿着所謂消閒的誇張服,就似二十年前,香港人在歐美旅遊,特別是在歐洲旅遊,被當地人投以歧視、排斥,甚至更可悲的是不屑。最高境界的不屑是甚麽呢?

就是你在食肆言談手舞足蹈,聲浪逼人,氣質乖張。有教養的白人是既不投訴,亦不瞪眼,只是氣定神閒,舉止仍保持優雅,眼神不與你接觸,不搖頭嘆息,一蹴搬桌子或離場,羞與為鄰,這種才是「真貴」遇見「扮貴」最難看的場面。

年青一點的朋友可能會問:氣質乖張,但不發一言,不手舞足蹈都有罪?對!

西方人會所的設計,就是保證會員氣質相約,不合度者就請出去,所以瞪眉突眼,藐咀藐舌,都是不合度(不是不合規,規是人家訂,度是自己制)。

名牌笠而未穿

現在見到的大陸人,絕大部分是將名牌笠下去而不是着上身,有云「富貴三代方識穿衣」,香港人今天笑大陸人,香港人二十年前又不是同一樣,將名牌「笠」下去,為什麽是「笠」下去而不是着上身,穿着有三個境界,第一級叫「人着衫」,衫是用來將身裁揚長避短,另配合其社會身份如職業之用,是輔助用途;第二級叫「衫着人」,為了應潮流、環境,合不合都不理就穿上去,人變得次要;第三是最低境界,為了表達自己有錢,就將昂貴牌子全「笠下去」,Prada 老闆有句名,全世界最恐怖,最沒品味的人,就是將Prada 全笠下去者。着衫點到即止, 「人,衣,境」溶在一起這些觀念,第一代的富人全完未了解。

但是不是低調加啞黑暗就一定好呢?很多時外間有很多什麽穿衣課程,什麽禮儀專家任教,課程對那些穿衣基本法都不知道的人當然有幫助,但那種幫助通常止於「不犯錯」,你只要嚴守規格,就不會鬧出笑話着錯衫、配錯色等;但又反過來,這不會令你走上青雲路,為上司客戶青睞,是高手就要做到「顯而不凸」。

話得說回來,穿衣第一戒在自量。大陸人偏愛意大利時裝如Versace,是代表他們喜歡以金錢力量挑戰戒規建制,以爛及不用守規來標榜,在中國國內還好,一旦國際接觸,很容易被人瞧不起而碰壁,現在是別人求你時代,你穿什麽都沒有問題,到形勢一反轉過來,走入你求人時代,就有排辛苦有排學。

更高境界的做法是把名牌放在心中,將自己當成名牌,超越衣服,超越外觀,以個人的德行,對社會的貢獻(但不要曬太多慈善),以及對人類的未來作出關愛,或者簡簡單單地說愛你敬你的職業,真正令人折服了,才是個人名牌化的真諦。

屆時,別人已經直看你靈魂,看不清你的衣服及樣貌了。


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Euphemistically Speaking: This may interest you

Economist
May 27, 2011

A FRIEND of mine was recently told by his boss that his position at work was “unassailable”: in British office-speak that is a severe warning which has sent him hastily looking for a new job. It reminded me of a guide I came across a few years ago, which aimed to help plain-speaking Dutch executives make sense of their English colleagues. Here’s an updated and amplified version. Readers are welcome to add their own entries in the comments field, and to ponder the question of what (if anything) an ingrained cult of euphemistic understatement may say about the British (or should that be English?) national character.

What the British say: “I hear what you say”
What the British mean: “I disagree and do not want to discuss it any further”
What is understood:”He accepts my point of view”

What the British say: “This is in no sense a rebuke”
What the British mean: “I am furious with you and letting you know it”
What is understood: “I am not cross with you”

What the British say: “With the greatest respect”
What the British mean: “I think you are wrong (or a fool)”
What is understood: “He is listening to me”

What the British say: “Correct me if I’m wrong”
What the British mean: “I know I’m right–please don’t contradict me”
What is understood: “Tell me what you think”

What the British say: “That’s not bad”
What the British mean: “That’s good or very good”
What is understood: “That’s poor or mediocre”

What the British say: “QUITE good” (with the stress on the “quite”)
What the British mean: “A bit disappointing”
What is understood: “Quite good”

What the British say: “quite GOOD” (with the stress on the “good “)
What the British mean: “excellent”
What is understood: “Quite good”

What the British say: “Perhaps you would like to think about….”/”I would suggest…” /”It would be nice if…”
What the British mean: “This is an order. Do it or be prepared to justify yourself…”
What is understood: “Think about the idea, but do what you like”

What the British say: “Do as much as you think is justifed”
What the British mean: “Do it all”
What is understood: “Do what you can”

What the British say: “Oh, by the way/Incidentally …”
What the British mean: “The primary purpose of our discussion is…”
What is understood: “This is not very important …”

What the British say: “I was a bit disappointed that/It is a pity you…”
What the British mean: “I am most upset and cross”
What is understood: “It doesn’t really matter”

What the British say: “Very interesting”
What the British mean: “I don’t agree/I don’t believe you”
What is understood: “They are impressed”

What the British say: “Could we consider some other options”
What the British mean: “I don’t like your idea”
What is understood: “They have not yet decided”

What the British say: “I’ll bear it in mind ”
What the British mean: “I will do nothing about it”
What is understood: “They will probably do it”

What the British say: “Please think about that some more”
What the British mean: “It’s a bad idea: don’t do it”
What is understood: “It’s a good idea, keep developing it”

What the British say: “I’m sure it’s my fault”
What the British mean: “I know it is your fault, please apologise”
What is understood: “It was somebody else’s fault”

What the British say: “That is an original point of view”
What the British mean: “You must be mad, or very silly”
What is understood: “They like my ideas!”

What the British say: “I’m sure you’ll get there eventually”
What the British mean: “You don’t stand a chance in hell”
What is understood: “Keep on trying; they agree I’m on the right track”

*Read this now and don’t forget it


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上市欺詐考驗中美跨境監管

Hong Kong Economic Journal
P29 | 專家之言 | 企業管治 | By 李元莎 何順文
2011-07-02

本專欄此前就內地在美上市企業涉嫌財務欺詐進行過專門探討,此後內地在美國上市的中國概念公司涉嫌財務欺詐的事件,仍在繼續發展之中,並引發了關於中美之間進行跨境監管的諸多問題。例如,美國SEC 於6 月13 日宣布,將啟動針對中國智慧照明(NYSEAmex: CIL) 、中國世紀龍傳媒(NYSE Amex: CDM)的訴訟程式。

今年3 月以來,中國已有23 家在美上市公司,因為各種披露紕漏、財務欺詐的問題,遭停牌或摘牌。

監管空白誘發欺詐

而針對中國公司的各種做空和財務造假指摘也仍在繼續,而且針對的公司已經不僅是在美國上市的內地公司。比如,6 月3 日,在加拿大多倫多上市的嘉漢林業(Sino Forest,TSX:TRE.TO)被指摘責財務造假,其曾高達70 億美元的市值,到6 月21 日已經蒸發了九成。由此,在美國和加拿大上市的內地中小企業已經處於風聲鶴唳、風雨飄搖之中。

在這場由獨立研究機構和做空投機者掀起的風暴中,美國監管機構SEC逐漸意識到問題的嚴重性,從而在政府監管層面加強了投資風險提示和針對性調查。首先是6 月9 日,SEC 首次對投資通過反向收購(RTO)上市的公司發出風險警示,警告投資者謹慎投資反向收購(RTO)的公司股票,從而將這一類型的上市公司置於更為直接的媒體監督和政府監管之下。

事實上,針對外國上市公司的潛在財務欺詐,SEC 從去年夏天起就展開了調查;其中一個重要部分,是向所有從事內地在美上市公司業務的審計師發出徵詢函,瞭解他們的工作情況。

由此,也揭示了一個基本的制度問題,就是頻頻發生的內地在美上市公司財務造假,與中美兩國跨境監管缺少制度安排,無法有效監管審計事務所和上市公司有關。

根據Sarbanes-Oxley 法案,美國成立PCAOB,作為上市公司審計機構的監管部門。SEC 規定,會計事務所只有在PCAOB 註冊登記後,才可以從事對美國上市公司的審計業務。

PCAOB 對在其名下註冊的會計事務所的上市公司審計業務擁有管轄和監督權,PCAOB 可對違規事務所予以行政處罰,包括吊銷該事務所的註冊資格、撤銷審計師的營業執照。

跨境監管問題浮現

但在涉及在美上市的內地企業審計機構監管上,由於中國政府在管轄權方面的絕對主權立場,在沒有單獨的中美跨境監管協議下,PCAOB 實際無法監管和調查在其註冊的、位於中國的會計事務所。

根據PCAOB 的網站公布的資訊,位於中國境內、從事在美上市公司審計業務的會計事務所高達55 家。

PCAOB 表示,中美雙方正在尋求達成一項治理跨境審計監督的雙邊合作協定,以監督從事美國上市業務的中國會計師事務所,在最近的中美戰略和經濟對話中,PCAOB 與中國證監會都同意加快合作的步伐,包括展開協商程式和技術支援。但是,在這一協定達成之前,美方還無法有效的改變目前實際存在的監管空白,只能採取提示投資風險、處罰訴訟違規企業的方式,進行事後彌補。

事實上,PCAOB 在尋求與內地證券監管部門建立制度性安排的同事,已經單獨採取行動,在現有的監管條件下,加強對於審計事務所的監管,如修改審計事務所申請政策,未能滿足監督和管轄條件的外國會計事務所,獲得註冊資格的機會變得微乎其微。

個案方面,今年6 月9 日PCAOB否決了中磊( 香港) 會計事務所在PCAOB 的註冊申請,理由是:中磊公司註冊地雖在香港,但其主要業務在中國大陸,而PCAO B 無法監督業務位於中國大陸的上市公司的審計工作。

除了加強對會計事務所的監管,SEC 已經正式開始調查涉嫌財務欺詐的公司。

雖然由於證券案件自身的複雜性以及取證的困難,以及通常涉及多項違法指控,所以從立案到結案可能耗時數年。但是,一旦啟動訴訟程式,相關的審計師都會收到法院的傳票。審計師一方面要配合調查,提供審計底稿,另一方面,他們自身也可能成為被起訴的對象。因此,對於審計事務所具有強大的威懾力。

李元莎 美國麻省大學商學院助理教授
何順文 澳門大學副校長兼教授

李元莎、何順文


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從陳美想到造琴

Hong Kong Economic Journal
P38 | 城市智庫 | 回眸英倫 | By 毛羨寧
2011-06-25

倫敦是個有錢也買不到方便的地方,尤其是晚上九時後想買點東西,要找上一家還營業的店舖毫不容易。有一次,我吃過晚飯後想吃冰淇淋,但超級市場都打烊了,只好由肯辛頓一直跑到武士橋Lords 雜貨店。眼巴巴看着快要關門,便如箭般衝進去,把冰淇淋、雪葩、乳酪統統拿下來。幸好付款處的女士正在慢條斯理地找零錢,讓趕進來的人買到他們心血來潮想吃的零食。我看看這身材纖瘦的女顧客,原來就是小提琴手陳美(Vanessa Mae) 。

古典音樂界混合電子元素

她回頭向我笑了一笑,然後拿起幾份報章雜誌,披着長頭髮跟男伴轉身離開。

她不施脂粉的容顏消減了明星味道,跟她1995 年推出唱片The Violin Player 的風範完全相反。還記得那時她十七歲,穿着白色連身裙在水中擺出拉小提琴的動作,以性感形象哄動了音樂界,被稱為古典音樂界混合電子元素的先軀。這張唱片賣了八百萬張,一方面受到古典音樂界狠狠抨擊,說這種新派音樂羞辱了古典樂,另一方面引起許多聽眾的興趣,想多了解「電子聲學」(Techno-acoustics)。陳美早被譽為天才兒童,演奏小提琴的造詣無庸置疑。她自五歲開始學習小提琴,八歲成為北京中央音樂學院最年幼的學生,十三歲已是世界上最年青灌錄出貝多芬和柴可夫斯基小提琴協奏曲的演奏者,因而被列進健力士世界紀錄大全。她少年時改變了演繹風格,令帕格尼尼、莫扎特等音樂家的樂曲跟上新潮流,開拓了一門新藝術,以後模仿她演奏的人都欠缺她那股東方氣質。可是,這幾年很少看到陳美在台上表演,也不見她做訪問。

那次她在武士橋的背影,就是我最近距離的回憶。

陳美在2008 年替英國廣播電台拍攝了一輯電視節目TheMaking of Me,用科學方法分析音樂才華是與生俱來,還是由環境培育而成。她發現自己的成功是天生愛挑戰、對新事物充滿好奇心和對音質特別敏感等因素而起,加上她從四至十六歲期間,大概花了七千多個小時日夜練習,手指跟腦神經的協調比一般人敏捷,所以後天的血汗苦功也是驕人成績的主要原因。我已忘記了節目中陳美對先天或後天的解釋下了什麽結論,只覺得她跟母親斷絕關係是最可悲的事。她平淡地說: 「我從小學琴、練習,甚至穿什麼衣服,都由母親控制。她不讓我滑雪,說我的雙手若是受傷了,她花在我身上的心血便付諸流水,還說: 『假如你在表演途中死了,起碼訃文的篇幅會更大。』踏進二十歲的時候,我再也不想忙着天天表演、上節目、灌錄唱片,於是把兼任經理人的母親解僱,重新整理我的生活。但母親好像覺得不當我的經理人,也就不能做我母親,就此離開了……這八年間我們都沒有見過面。

」陳美母親用強權的教育方式鞭策女兒成材,做到了,卻粉碎了母女情。

讓你去歐洲學造小提琴

我曾經問父親,要是我念書成績不好,而且對學術沒有興趣的話,他會怎麼辦。他毫不猶疑地說: 「讓你去歐洲學造小提琴。」這不是熱門行業,我們也不認識任何造樂器的人,但父親認為懂得做手藝是冒充不來的專門技能,學徒制能訓練年青人的紀律和耐性,我也能在音樂中找到快樂。在我念博士班的第一年,我和父母去德國慕尼黑,偶然走到一家門上掛着金色提琴標記的店舖,標記中間用西洋書法寫着「Luthier」。店舖窗邊放着未經加工的小提琴,像赤裸裸的木刻等待披上衣飾。我們推門進去,從門的隙縫間已嗅到木材的香味,踏上鋪滿木屑的地板感覺像地毯一般。琴匠抬起頭,把鼻樑上移了位的小眼鏡調整一下。介紹過後,他向我們解釋造提琴先要認識木材,才知道挑選木頭哪個部分、怎樣使它乾燥,然後用什麼材料的漆塗上琴身、把琴放在怎樣的環境晾乾、乾到什麼程度才繼續一層一層的上漆,原來跟木匠學習精巧手藝之前,還有這麼多工序。老師傅說,慕尼黑有一位著名小提琴匠Martin Schleske,自己到德國和瑞士採木,更與瑞士聖加倫聯邦材料實驗室合作,發現舉世知名的史特拉第瓦里(Stradivari)小提琴音色獨特優美,是因真菌令木材變得輕巧和多孔,改變了小提琴發聲時聲波傳送的效果,令音色更渾厚圓潤。他曾在大學念物理,不單研究製琴世家如Guarneri、Montagnana 和陳美所用的Guadagnini,還自視為小提琴雕刻家,把製成品看成藝術,出版了Der Klang 一書,解釋聲音的奧秘。老師傅隨意拿起了一個小提琴,奏起孟德爾頌小提琴協奏曲一段,看着他手中的寶貝一臉陶醉。下次去意大利北部造琴之都Cremona ,必定會想起他。

我反覆地想,父親為什麼說念不好書不要緊,反而提議去做糅合科研、藝術和手工品味的艱難事?

父母總希望兒女盡其所長,挑戰極限,他們的成就感和滿足感愈大。

就像每個小提琴看來相似,所發出的琴聲卻不一樣。因材施教,讓孩子找到快樂,說不定就是成功的關鍵。

毛羨寧


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Indian IT firms: Another giant leap

Economist
June 1, 2011

EVEN two decades after the Indian technology miracle began it is hard not to be impressed by the scale of the achievement. Particularly considering the obstacles. The roads in Bangalore, the city at the heart of the revolution, still suck. Power cuts still periodically kill the lights and air conditioning on the campuses of the big IT firms, until back-up generators come to the rescue. This is a world-class industry built from nothing, that won most of its business abroad, while overcoming India’s lousy infrastructure and inept, and sometimes venal, state.

Indian IT has made shareholders and employees rich and now boosts the country’s balance of payments by $59 billion a year. Yet its impact goes far beyond the numbers. The big firms were among the first to win blue-chip American and European clients and to adopt blue-chip governance and accounting norms themselves. This won acclaim from foreign investors. The industry “changed perceptions of India as a third world country,” says S. Gopalakrishnan, the chief executive of Infosys who heads upstairs to become co-chairman in August. On the other side of town, Suresh Senapaty, the chief financial officer of Wipro, says the industry “created a global brand for India” that helped firms in other sectors to compete abroad.

Yet there is a slight whiff of a mid-life crisis. So far this year both Infosys and Wipro, two of India’s “big three” IT firms, have given guidance for profits that has disappointed analysts. Both are restructuring their operations and have had turbulence at the top. Infosys muddled the transfer of power among its founders. Wipro, a firm still controlled by its long-time leader, whose villa can be spotted through a forest glade next to its headquarters, lost its joint-chief executives. Only the largest, Mumbai-based TCS, is firing on all cylinders.

In the grand scheme of things these companies’ performance is still strong, with sales growth and margins which are, by global standards, impressive. Although many Western multinationals initially slashed their budgets in response to the financial crisis, they quickly performed a U-turn and increased spending, as they redoubled their efforts to redesign and outsource key parts of their businesses. Still, there is a growing drumbeat among the IT providers about the need to create “non-linearity”. Translated into English, this means severing the umbilical link between sales growth and employee growth. Indian IT companies are desperate to escape their tag as “body shops” whose main competitive advantage is low labour costs.

That advantage is still formidable. The cost arbitrage available by employing Indian engineers rather than Western ones is still at least 50%. The strategic worry probably reflects three things, though. First, large Western rivals have come a long way in replicating some of the advantages of Indian firms. Wipro’s Mr Senapaty says that for many years they dismissed the Indian model as a temporary phenomenon boosted by the dotcom bubble and the Y2K scare: “It was only in 2003 and 2004 that they realised the Indian model would survive.” Now firms such as IBM and Accenture have vast employee bases in India too, and although they still struggle to grow as consistently or as profitably as Indian firms, they can compete better.

Second, there are long-term worries about the supply of cheap labour. Wages for employees in India are rising at over 10% this year, and as the economy develops there will be more competition for talent from other industries. The solution is to improve the supply, and the quality, of graduates – only about a quarter of job applicants are typically considered employable – but that will take time and patience.

Third, there are echoes of a political backlash, particularly in America, over the granting of work permits to Indian engineers and of outsourcing jobs more generally. One state, Ohio, has banned the use of public funds for services that are provided offshore. Mr Gopalakrishnan looks pained when discussing this. His view is that the industry has created new jobs not stolen old ones. Still, he admits, that “recently the disparity in growth rates and in job creation have created renewed focus on domestic job generation” in rich countries.

What might the next stage of the industry look like? Most firms want to build their presence in emerging markets. Today they usually serve the local operations of multinationals. Tomorrow, with luck and effort, they may win the business of big companies based in countries such as Brazil and China. With existing Western customers, however, the urge of all three of the big Indian IT firms is to embed themselves deeper in the client – providing not just a laundry list of specific services at a low cost, but becoming a more integral part of how they run their business.

This has its own risks – a rising portion of Indian IT firms’ revenues come from fixed price, long-term contracts, for which they must estimate their outlays over years and attempt to deliver on budget. In may other industries, from catering to infrastructure, such contracts mean taking more risk, and accepting higher upfront investments in return for the promise of an influx of cash at the end of the contract. Mr Senapaty’s response is measured. He says that the hope is that after many years of doing business with its clients, Wipro knows its stuff well enough to understand how its costs will pan out. All the same, it has beefed up its risk management as the nature of pricing has changed.

Alongside expanding geographically and deepening client relationships, all three firms are also exploring the outer reaches of technology and how society will use it. From the impact of cloud computing and mobile services, to clients’ desire to make their businesses more environmentally sustainable, projects are afoot to anticipate the future. Coming from most companies such speculations would be dismissed as guff. But in time India’s IT firms will surely invent new products and markets. After all, they are past masters of taking something that only exists in their imaginations and turning it into a multi billion dollar reality.