ISSUE 2 | LENT 2013
published by the asian careers society
THE NEW BOARD MEMBERS A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR ANYONE ON ASIAN CAREERS AND MORE...
Banking: LSE Alumni on having Careers in Asia
‘Abenomics’: An Insight into Current Japanese Economic Reform
Law: One Firm Gives a Taste, Eleven Create a Brace
Lifestyle: Where Are You From? Good Times as a Gweilo
EDITOR’S NOTE With the successful launch of the Asian Careers Journal last year it was up to me to make sure we continued on producing such a high quality publication; and what a publication we have in store for you. With an excellent and devoted group on the Research Subcommittee I am proud to present a varied and informative window into the most exciting market for young graduates. With an ascent that doesn’t seem to be slowing, the nations of East Asia continue to impress. China is intent on returning to her ‘historical normal’ while even the 80s powerhouse of Japan is shaking off her cobwebs under the Premiership of Shinzo Abe, and making her economic clout felt. Certainly an exciting few years are coming to Asia. The Asian Careers Journal is not only keeping readers informed. We have also taken a further leap into explaining what it is, exactly, you might end up facing if you choose to explore Asia. As well as some LSE graduates sharing their experiences we have also enlisted the help of LSE’s local Asian community to share with us their tips and secrets of where to go, and most importantly, what to eat. I hope you enjoy reading our Journal and that you too will share our passion and excitement for Asia and all of the opportunities it can offer.
Nico Nalbantian Editor-In-Chief
02 | Editor’s Note
Assistant Editor: Niki Micklem
Pearl Ho Andy Wong James Totty (cover page image)
Kimberly Tong (University of Edinburgh) Megu Takagawa (University of Tokyo) Leo Wan Yu (HELP University College) Loh Teng Kai (London School of Economics) Anna Boumeester (London School of Economics) Emily Ting (Kings College London) Sara Ghazie (University of Nottingham)
Justin Chan Yuan Yan Tiffany Chang Janet Chan Valerie Tang Justin Lai Lipei Tao Aditi Narendra Kumar Giang Nguyen Howard Wong Yeung Hou Zoe Tang
Publications and Marketing: Jacqueline Chan Stephanie Choi Adrian Chua Loh Teng Kai Brian Lau Clarissa Luk Edwin Lee Christie Mok Jasper Ng Zoe Tang Marcus To Andy Wong Dan Xu
The ACS Committee: Matthew Choi Jessica Hui Jonathan Yan Hon Ting Tsoi Pearl Ho Nico Nalbantian Anthony Ng Kitty Lum Noble Mak Karen Yung Benjamin Fung
ÂŠiStockphoto.com/4x6 Published by: LSESU Asian Careers Society (ACS) 20122013
ABOUT ACS Who are we?
The LSESU Asian Careers Society (â€˜ACSâ€™) is the only society on campus which specializes in providing insights into different career opportunities around Asia. Our size, extensiveness and continued engagement with students and corporate firms have reinforced our reputation as a premier source of information and opportunities within the LSE. Our members are all either from Asia or show strong interests in building career paths in this fast-growing and increasingly influential region.
We act as a platform for members to explore career prospects surrounding the following fields: Accounting, Banking, Law, Management and Consultancy and Alternative Careers. Throughout the school year, we organize a diverse range of events in hopes of spanning the bridge between firms and LSE students. In offering companies access to our growing membership database, we serve as the perfect channel for firms to recruit graduates of the highest calibre. Read more about our event highlights in this journal, including Asia Exposure, Legal Insight and our new initiative, the Law Conference 2012.
The ACS has always been dedicated to prepare LSE students for their future careers. We aim to increase their understanding of their interested sectors, deliver comprehensive guidance on developing key competency skills and maximize their chances to meet, network and learn from industry professionals. We review and develop our ideas to deliver the most relevant, practical and useful events that are enjoyable for both students and participating companies.
05 | ACS
INTRODUCING... Investment Banking By Justin Chan Yuan Yan Overview
To a typical LSE student, having a career in investment banking is simply exciting. When we talk about investment banking, most of us will instinctively think of London and New York as these two cities have been the global financial hubs for the last few decades. However, as Eurozone countries and United States struggle to get out of their depressing economic downturn, Asia could be a great alternative for any potential investment bankers. According to Financial Times, the gravity of European money market funds is starting to shift from the West to the East due to rating downgrades and weak domestic demand in the European countries.1 This has encouraged investors to widen their hunt for investments across Asian countries. A report from Fitch Ratings indicates that a fifth of the total assets of European money market funds have been moved from weak Eurozone economies to emerging Asia countries, especially cash-rich China, as well as other strong economic performers in Europe such as Germany.2 Besides, Mergers & Acquisitions in Asia are also expanding in influence across the global financial market. M&A activities in China is reported to hit 93.1 billion USD in 2012 compared to 13.6 billion 1 The Financial Times – www.ft.com 2 Fitch Ratings – www.fitchratings.com
USD in 2007 and researchers believe that the exponential growth of the M&A market in China is driven by domestic policies which provide incentives to firms to acquire foreign assets amid the worsening Eurozone debt crisis. A recent survey done in the UK suggests that almost a third of UKbased investment bankers prefer to work in Singapore rather than any other financial hubs in western countries. The survey showed that out of the 462 investment bankers that were asked, 31 percent ranked Singapore as their first choice, a fifth opted New York and only 19 percent preferred London as their destination for their future career. In addition, 60 percent of the bankers believe that the Asia-Pacific region would dominate the financial service sector in the next ten years time compared to only one fifth predict opting for London.3 The results are not astonishing as profit-oriented banks and firms would definitely see fast-growing, low-tax and bank-friendly Singapore as a more favourable place to expand their business. All the statistical data have evidently supported the fact that Asian countries are getting more and more comparable to developed Western countries in the competitive financial industry. So, why not Asia?
Singapore is a highly-developed and political-stable country located in South East Asia. The low tax policy and its relatively transparent and corruption-free business environment have made Singapore a lucrative destination in the eyes of 3 The Financial Times – www.ft.com
foreign investment. In terms of financial sector, Singapore is truly a world-class financial centre and the financial sector is the major driving force of the economy, accounted 11.6% of Singapore total GDP. According to the latest report, Singapore is ranked as the fourth-best financial hub and fourth largest foreign exchange (FOREX) market in the world. The investment banking industry flourished as Singapore developed into a key international debt arranging hub in Asia. The steady flow of issuance from the Singapore Government, statutory boards, supra-nationals and corporate ensure the capital market in Singapore remain active all the time. The growth of Singapore Exchange (SGX) as an international exchange has successfully attracted many foreign companies, who account for more than a quarter of total listings in Singapore. Strict regulation and high standards also play a crucial role in the development of investment banking sector. Various initiatives such as the Code of Corporate Governance and revisions to the SGX listing rules have been taken to enhance disclosure, improve market discipline and strengthen corporate governance of listed companies. All these measures significantly reduce uncertainties and indirectly maintain the investors’ confidence. Most investment banks in Singapore involve in various corporate-finance and investment related activities such as4: • Underwriting securities 4 Guide Me Singapore - www.guidemesingapore.com
• Acting as an intermediary between an issuer of securities and the investing public • Acting as a broker for institutional clients • Facilitating mergers and acquisitions (M&A) • Advising companies on raising capital through Equity Capital Market (ECM) or Debt Capital Market (DCM) In terms of market share, bulge-bracket investment banks like JP Morgan, Deutsche and HSBC usually dominate the scene. However, three main local banks (DBS, OCBC and UOB) do present in some investment banking activities. A major move was taken to consolidate the previously six local banks into the present three main local banks. The reason behind of this transition is to strengthen their financial capability and capacity in order to compete with major foreign banks in the country. With outstanding interpersonal and analytical skills, you can attempt to be an investment banker in Singapore. For educational requirements, most investment bankers hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees and some positions require professional licenses or certification. A good academic certificate is a good start, but simply not the end. Local students in Singapore are ‘kiasu’(which means afraid of losing to others in Hokkien, a dialect of Mandarin which is commonly used in Singapore) and have very strong enthusiasm in investment banking, fierce competition in this industry should be expected. Good communication skill is significant in this multiracial society and knowing English and Mandarin could be a big plus to your CV as these are the main languages taught in Singapore. Since investment banker is a high risk, high return profession, the working environment is ex-
tremely stressful and long working hours are pretty common to any investment bankers in Singapore. If you are looking for a place which is relatively less competitive than London, Singapore might not be your choice.
Hong Kong, as one of the fastest growing international financial centres, is reputed for its high standard banking industry regulation. Currently, there are 145 licensed banks, 27 restricted license banks and 28 deposit taking companies
in operation in Hong Kong. Of these 200 authorized institutions, 181 are beneficially owned by sovereign entities from 29 countries.5 In the past 50 years, Hong Kong has successfully attracted many top financial firms from all over the world. 68 out of the world’s 100 largest banks have shown their presence in here. There are several factors that have contributed to the success of Hong Kong in the competitive banking 5 Guide Me Hong Kong - www.guidemehongkong.com
07 | Intros
industry. Strong and fast growing domestic banking market has provided a great environment for Hong Kong to become a strong financial institution in its own right. Apart from that, the domination of HSBC in the domestic banking sector is believed to help HSBC to have enough capacity and market share to compete with other major banks. According to Index of Economic Freedom, Hong Kong has remained as the world’s freest economy since the inception of the index in 1995. The economy, which is governed under positive non-interventionism (the economic policy of Hongkong), has very minimal government intervention in the market. This allows more flexibility to investors and reduces the concerns about the effects of government policies to the market. The highly internalized and modernized financial industry along with its capital market in Asia have made Hong Kong a favourable destination for international firms, especially firms from Mainland China, to be listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Hong Kong’s position as the commercial capital of Asia quite naturally spurred the growth of investment banking services. Today, many investment banks in Hong Kong offer a variety of financial services to firms and investors such as issuing securities, trading of financial instruments, managing portfolios of financial assets and other support services. Well-developed stock exchange market also helps to promote the growth of investment banking industry in Hong Kong. The highly regulated Hong Kong Stock Exchange is listed as third largest in Asia in terms of market capitalization. The rise of China has never gone unnoticed by the banking industry. With the lucrative salary packages, low income taxes (max 17%) and opportunities to work on mega-Chinese IPO, Hong Kong is attracting
many top-notch investment bankers from traditional financial hubs such as London and New York. Apart from that, more and more top Chinese students and investment bankers now want to work in their own country as opposed to staying developed Western countries as they believe the banking industry in Hong Kong is comparable to the ones in the US or Europe. All these have significantly increased the supply of qualified candidates in the labour market which makes it harder for applicants to secure an offer. Hence, learning local languages (Mandarin & Cantonese) would definitely be beneficial to your applications. Being an investment banker in Hong Kong is an entirely different experience to what you would do in London or New York. Getting deals done relies a lot more on “network” than strong execution skills or original ideas. Furthermore, China is has never been extremely successful in the M&A market as its main focus is on IPOs. Hence, most of the time you will be spending your time on writing prospectuses and travelling to talk to clients about the latest economic outlook and industry trend, and less on doing complex models and executions. Many IPOs in China tend to be very profitable. If you are an investment banker, this could be good news to you as it will be reflected in your year end-bonuses.
By Aditi Narendra Kumar Consulting as a profession is lucrative to those who have an aptitude for problem solving and love working in different sectors at the same time. There is one mainstream type of consulting, management consulting. The other types are specific to a particular industry such as IT consulting, financial consulting or economic consulting.
Management Consulting basically involves you being a part of a team which has to solve a business related problem for a particular client. This problem can range from raising cost efficiency or increasing sales to the restructuring of business strategy. Some of the bigger companies in management consulting are Bain, Boston Consulting Group or McKinsey. Management consultancies like McKinsey also work for governments to solve unique problems in sectors like health and education. But Bain has a clear policy of not working with government bodies. So each company has its own area of expertise. Financial consulting is a financial advisory service for investments, mergers and portfolio management; some of the companies specializing in this are Oliver Wyman, Bain and Deloitte. Another niche type of consulting, of which most students are not aware, is economic consulting which deals with competition policy analysis and market structure. This type of consulting involves assessing cases of unfair competition practices, mergers, cartels and requires a thorough knowledge of microeconomics. Compass Lexecon, Frontier Economics and RBB Economics are the main companies in this field. There are also a few firms like Oxford Economics and Cambridge Economics which deal with Macroeconomic consulting which involves forecasting and data analysis. Consulting, as a profession, requires a few key skills like effective and simple communication skills, problem solving skills, the ability to work in a team on challenging problems and the ability work to tight deadlines. The work of a consultant is not as demanding as that of an investment banker but it is both challenging and intellectually stimulating.
In Asia, almost all the big European consulting firms have offices in Singapore, Bangkok, Taiwan and Tokyo. But mainstream consulting in Asia is in financial services. This is due to the large presence of the Investment Banking Sector in the region. Firms like Bain, Monitor Group and Oliver Wyman have extensive operations in the Asia Pacific region which are predominantly in financial consulting. So, depending on your field of interest, you can apply to firms which specialize in financial consulting which will mostly be in Asia Pacific and London. The United States and Europe specialize more in Economic and Management consulting services. This difference can also be attributed to the levels of development within a particular region. Asia is fast growing with cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo where there are a plethora of investment and business opportunities. Whereas European countries are facing the developed world problems of unfair competition among big firms, the expansion of business in new areas, possibilities of Mergers and acquisitions and so on. The best way to start a career in Consulting is to get an internship in any of the most renowned consulting firms. Most of the Consulting firms go on to hire their interns for graduate roles and moreover, internships are relatively easier to get. Most consultants advise students to be thorough with some core microeconomics and case study analysis, to perform well in interviews. After applying the first stage is an assessment centre where the candidates sit for aptitude tests; the second and third rounds are generally interviews.
manager and Partner. But from the first day of work you are part of a team solving problems head on, irrespective of your peerâ€™s senior positions. Consulting has a very horizontal working structure, as the focus is on performance. Team work and time management are absolutely crucial in order to do well in this field. The work can range from doing a lot of data analysis to running regressions to doing field work to understand the problem. Thus, consulting is a very rewarding, interesting and challenging career path with ample opportunity to progress. It is very important to attend company presentations to know more about a particular company and network with their employees. There are websites like Glassdoor and Vault which have organized information on consulting firms and job opportunities; these can be very useful for prospective applicants.
By Janet Chan Amidst economic uncertainty in the US and Europe, it would be wise to turn your eyes towards Asia with its abundant markets and bags of potential. The world is becoming increasingly dependent
on Asiaâ€™s growth, and the flourishing economy is constantly fuelling the legal market. As a result, there have been major changes throughout Asia facilitating its expansion. In this article, I will be outlining the progress of the various hubs in the legal markets, comprising of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
With its thriving markets and investments in full swing, China is an important country to keep an eye on. Although it is a civil law jurisdiction and at the moment, only PRC nationals and HK residents (without a foreign passport) can qualify as Chinese lawyers, donâ€™t let this put you off because internationally qualified lawyers can give counsel on international deals (inbound and outbound investments). Most international firms are based in Beijing and Shanghai, although there are many local firms dotted all around China. They cannot be said to be completely mutually exclusive however, as local firm King & Wood has recently completed a merger with Mallesons, an Australian firm, to become King & Wood Mallesons, the only law firm licensed to practice Chinese law, English law and Australian law. As Western law firms expand to China, Chinese firms are also trying to establish themselves overseas, for example, Zhong Lun Law Firm, which opened an office in London
If you apply for graduate roles, then you apply as an Analyst or Junior consultant. In most of the companies the hierarchy the goes up to Associate, Manager, Senior
09 | Intros
in May 2012. As China lays foundation as one of the most influential countries in the world, it is clear that a career there is an opportunity not to be missed.
Arguably the nucleus of Asia, Hong Kong has much to offer to budding lawyers. A common law jurisdiction, it is a place where much of the action happens and can be described as a gateway between China and the rest of the world. It is also the preferred venue for arbitration and mediation, where 23 foreign law firms have already formed associations with local firms. This is not surprising, since there is a swelling demand for financial services, including IPOs and M&As, which in turn stimulates demand in the legal market. For example, in March 2012, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett represented China’s Bank of Communications in its $8.9 billion private share placement. Prospective lawyers who want to practise in Hong Kong should keep in mind that they need to pass the conversion courses in order complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws in Hong Kong. This may sound troublesome, but not to worry, the rewards are great. The ‘war’ between UK firms and the US newcomers in their quest for talent has meant that salaries have been on the rise. American firms in their bid to establish themselves on HK soil have offered ‘New York Rates’ to newly-qualified lawyers- salaries in the region of £92,000 per annum- compared to a ‘measly’ £73,000 in UK firms. In addition, a number of US firms offer cost of living allowances- extremely generous given the rocketing property prices in Hong Kong.
In 2012, the Malaysian Parliament passed the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2012, allowing foreign firms to open offices and
practise Malaysian law. This is a significant change in the Asian legal industry, however, there are perceptible limits put in place at the moment. Foreign firms can either partner up with a local firm and practise in select areas of law including corporate, Islamic finance and international arbitration, or they could establish their own firm and practise in very limited fields; those including court litigation and criminal law would be off-limits. These restrictions should not be permanent, however, just a way to ensure that liberalisation of the legal market occurs gradually. The court system in Malaysia has been highly praised for its efficiency. The Chief Justice’s goal for concluding court cases within 9 months has been very successful. Malaysia has also been zealous in its promulgation of the Kuala Lumpur Centre for Regional Arbitration as a venue for international arbitration. Barristers and solicitors are not separated in Malaysia- you can be both at the same time. However, foreign lawyers are not permitted to practise Malaysian law. Despite this, internationally qualified lawyers may advise on cross-border deals. If you want to practise Malaysian law, you can sit the CLP after getting your LLB (LSE qualifies), or you can pass as a barrister-at-law in England, after which you should fulfil the requirements for the Malaysian Bar.
At the moment there are 6 international firms which hold Qualified Foreign Law Practice licenses: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose and White & Case. The license gives these firms the power to practise in Singaporean commercial law. It is expected that these licenses will be distributed to other firms again in 2013.
The Singaporean Parliament has approved legislative changes which would facilitate mergers between international and local firms in early 2012 and international firms have not wasted a second in settling themselves in Singapore. This year has seen many high-profile mergers and alliances, including the Ashurst/Blake Dawson merger, the Linklaters Singapore Pte. Ltd/ Allens alliance and the Baker & McKenzie/Wong & Leow alliance. It would be easier to become a foreign lawyer at international firms, but should you wish to fully qualify as a Singaporean lawyer, you should take Part A of the Singaporean Bar Exam first, followed by a training contract, after which you can practise as an advocate and a solicitor.
Many believe that Asia is an upand-coming region in the world and they have good reasons to do so. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, emphasized the importance of Asia’s role in the global recovery in the wake of the financial crisis when she said that it was the “defining economic success story of modern times”. Working far away from home may be a daunting idea for many, but where is success without risk?
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11 | Intros
BANKING Interview with James Cheng By Kimberly Tong
In the high-rise commercial building in Causeway Bay, we were welcomed into the conference room of what appears to be a high-tech modern gallery, surrounded by contemporary artwork and paintings. As Mr James Cheng, came out to greet us, we were struck by his friendliness in his neat black-and white polo shirt, practical navy anorak and comfy blue jeans. Having graduated from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Michigan Business School, Mr Cheng was the Lead Portfolio Manager/CEO at Morgan Stanley for 7 years(from 2006), before retiring this year. Currently, Mr Cheng acts as the Senior Advisor to Morgan Stanley. Previously, he had also founded a very successful company called Asia Strategic Investment Management Limited, which he ran for 8 years from 1996 in Hong Kong. Speaking very frankly and humbly, the depth Mr Cheng showed his intellectual and his personal insight on current affairs and the financial industry was admirable. With a tap, the hallway filled with paintings closed behind us. With another tap, the glass doors of our conference room entitled our interview discretion. With his relaxed bespectacled eyes upon us, our discussions began…
1. How much do you enjoy your job, in general? I am part of an investment bank, but I was more of an investment manager. To me, this industry is a lot of fun as I get to learn new things all the time. I have been very fortunate with my mentors, one of whom was a Wall Street legend. They are in an industry which makes a lot of money, but they are not to be known to use money frivolously. Instead, they are more involved with the thought process, but they do enjoy the financial game. For one, you get the right to think freely and deeply, before proving your thesis in the market place. There is an objective to fair judgement to a certain sense – the market place will prove whether you are right or wrong. 2. How would you compare investment banking 25 years ago and that of today? Whilst I am now currently retired, I am still involved as a Senior Advisor to Morgan Stanley. Essentially, the last 25 years had seen a technology driving investment banking tremendously. The zillion amount and volume of info dealt with, was not seen previously (e-mail had only just been invented 25 years ago.) Computing was just invented then. Before, we only had the time-consuming one-to-one communication. Then fax was invented, which is a faster though constrained multiple point. The value on investment banking was timeless…and in the early 1990s, when e-mail was invented
- there was an explosion of info via e-mails I had worked my entire career within investing in Asia, and there was no such Pan-Asian index then – with data going back to around 1988 and invented in 1990s, so I had no way of knowing performance in Asia in a whole index going. Hence, people developed a different skill set of how they can worked. Fundamentally, business changed. To me, the invention of technology has changed the volume and timelessness because traders can trade very differently. (Mr Cheng receives an average of 600 e-mails per day, and an incredible 2000 e-mails during holidays!) When I joined Morgan Stanley, we were a very small company and my unit manages around 20 billion dollars. Today, after selling half a business away, we’re at 200~300 billion dollars. The size has increased, and the amount of data you deal with are very different. 3. Do you think there is a certain attitude that an investment banker should hold towards the society in general? This is an interesting question. When I first started, we were at the cups of taking off in the late 1980s. We were dominated by merchant banking model, mostly British merchant banks which don’t exist today. They are agency brokers, a middle-man between buyer and sellers, who also do advisory work with no risk on the banks itself. It is a very pure form of what I call “turning their blood, sweat and toil into money”.
However, the Americans, using computer technology and bigger capital base, have wiped out the agency model using the risk of their capital and better access of data by the late 1990s. 4. Do you think the tightening of banking regulations will move the industry forward, or would it be a hindrance? I personally think, 2008 is a watershed year for the financial industry. This reflects my decision to leave the firm and to move on to do something else in the industry. The way I look at it in the past 20 years, went through an extreme period of what I call “leveraging” from 1990s to 2008. In the developed world (not including emerging markets), private plus government debt from around 15 to 70 trillion in 2008. Over the same time, GDP(in US dollars) 22~44 trillion has doubled. This unprecedented and extraordinary period has ended in tears. Hong Kong is a product of this leveraging, and have made up a lot of money from it. It is unreasonable and illogical to expect it to continue, right? Regulations are going to tighten. The financial industry has created a lot of problems, and part of the game has become a gamble. I have had a talk with Laurence Summers (who is currently the Director of the White House Economic Council) when he was in Singapore, amongst other senior figures, they all have their doubts that a lot of things that go on in the financial world have no economic value. This is a great challenge right now, which is why George Soros sponsored ”Institutes of New Economic Thinking” is something interesting I would follow more closely than traditional Economics. It is a platform to challenge a lot of vested interest. I actually think traditional Economics has a lot of problems, as many students are channeled into very mathematically-model
driven things. At the end of the day, these mathematically-driven models don’t really explain the world very well. In my opinion, the last 20 years models we lived with, with its period of extreme “leveraging” have to be re-examined. This is why I am doing what I am doing today. If you use the old model to make money, you will lose a lot of money. In the last 3~4 years, the hedge funds have been doing quite badly. Marketization, with the market price telling you the value of things, is what you look at when you create models. Market price is only true if there is a lot of volume behind this transition. This is why re-examining is the key with hedge funds at the moment.
the CDOS. All the main roots is the computing power we misused. To me, this industry is not a “sunset industry”. As much as I am concerned, this industry to me, is a lot of fun, but a lot of people enter because they think it makes a lot of money. When I entered the industry, the pay wasn’t what it is today. However, it is still a very highly-paid industry. I would argue that you need to enjoy and have a passion for what you are doing. It is a “sunset industry” from the perspective if you think you will make the amount of money pre2008. Otherwise, there are a lot of things I think we have caused this crisis we have to re-think. On the UK and the Euro, my view is that you can do anything you want, but you have to be aware of the consequences and the British has to make a choice. 6. What qualities would you look for in your mentees?
5. Do you think the finance industry is a “sunset industry”? No, I think finance is something that can co-exist in any economy. You have seen a lot of accesses in the system, in the last 20 years because of a combination of a technology driven computing power and communication. Humans are not aware of the power of this thing and abusing them. Their power to do that was very damaging in hindsight. Without internet, we would not have been able to create all
I would look for people who open-minded willing to learn, who can handle their own biasedness. When I run my team, one of the first few guys to work in management in Morgan Stanley, I refused to have a room when I was promoted to a “Principal”(Between Vice-president and Managing Director), as I enjoy an open communication. Yes, rooms are a symbol of status. But I value communicating and thinking freely, I look to people who are willing to experiment. Performance is very important, and it comes to numbers. We tend to focus on longer-term. In the short-term, I place more importance on how the person thinks through to the solution, than the actual solution. To me, the only ability to stay long-term, is the process of how you think. There is a certain amount of randomness in the very short run. A very interest-
13 | Banking
ing read would be Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest book “Antifragile”, a sequel to his earlier book, “ Fooled by Randomness”. I am not the usual guy you speak to, there is a lot of pressure on everybody who focus on results. 7. With all the criticism on investment banking, what sort of attitudes should employees have in this respect? This is a very philosophical question. In the past 20 years, it all comes down to how free-market and stock performance determines everything. Is there something wrong with that? I am not sure whether that is wrong, but my view is that economics is a tool of analysis. It can be employed with different ways and value systems. My very personal belief is that one of reason why the economic profession got into the troubles it has today, is that somewhere along the line, we lost sight that economics is a tool of system, not a belief system, or the moral equivalent of religion. Free-markets can work in different political arrangements. If you look at the fundamental, there is a certain “cage” set by Christianity. All the fundamental of economics are developed by staunt Christians, deep down they all grew up with the 10 Commandments. We don’t talk about it, because it’s so much part of their lives. It goes back to back to: what is the moral choice of the society? There is no outright “yes” or “no” answer, it is just properly understanding why our morals are, and making sure our financial rewards are in line with the risks we take. 8. What is your view on the banking industry in China? Whilst I am not an expert on China, the financial industry will definitely develop in China. They will adopt a
clear system to the one we are now enjoying, as China is at probably at a stage where the banking system is at where the Western banks were at a stage 20~30 years ago. The Private-Owned Enterprise will have to drive the economy more than the State-Owned Enterprise. The Chinese market is not an easy market to work, but not impossible. China has the one advantage that few countries have, and the world has not witnessed. Danny Quah, a professor of Economics at LSE, has good views on China. China is industrializing upon their 1.2 billion population, and enjoying unprecedented economies of scale. Economics is an observational science. China is able to experiment an “Open System” on Shenzhen in 1979, and when it worked, they extended upon the whole country. This helped China to develop their economy a lot faster. China’s very fast growth puzzles the West very much, but the error many Western Economists make is on China’s scale, and that the economy has been very stable in the last 20 to 30 years. They do not know where China’s ground zero is. There are many good concepts to use, but we have to be open-minded on possibilities. 9. How does the culture of Morgan Stanley from that of another firm? Morgan Stanley hires smart, hard-working, but creative people and it is a distinct fact that we spend an inordinate amount in hiring people. Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are very proud of their companies, but Goldman Sachs has more of a collaborative partnership structure, whereas Morgan Stanley is more staff-based, but I wouldn’t carry it very far.
The firms’ culture is very strong. It does to matter which offices you work in, whether it is in New York or Hong Kong. Overseas offices are smaller, and have less expertise specialization. Pre-crisis, Morgan Stanley can be rather entrepreneurial. We are very unique in being an investment bank, but continues to be very agile in tapping opportunities. The advantage is that we have the resources of a large corporation and the nimbleness to work, if we were to start a new business. However, the current regulations will be a more constraining force. My advice to interns of Spring Weeks: Working hard and being smart is ultimately what they are always looking for. We are very grateful to Mr Cheng for his insights and experiences, and wishes to thank him for sharing his time with us on during his brief stay in Hong Kong, before travelling back to Singapore. On a personal note, I would like to thank my team of LSE students for their support and advice for making this possible.
Asia Exposure By Loh Teng Kai
The Asia Exposure is an annual trip by the LSE’s Asian Careers Society (ACS) and Business Society. Every year in December, the two societies co-host and organize visits to multinational financial institutions such as J.P. Morgan, Bloomberg and more. These visits are targeted at students seeking to gain knowledge and employment in the financial services industry, and are excellent opportunities to impress prospective employers and network with senior professionals, as well as students from other prestigious universities. Many participants from previous years have
managed to secure internship offers from prestigious investment banks through the pre-screening of successful applicants and through the various networking opportunities. Naturally, there are limited spaces and selection criteria for participating candidates are thus stringent. This December was no different. Kitty Lum (from ACS) and Kevin Li (from Business Society) organized a weeklong trip and brought a diverse group of students to Hong Kong’s central business district for Asia Exposure 2012.
Why Hong Kong though? Hong Kong is one of the world’s top developed financial centers, and is in a prime position to take advantage of the China’s growth prospects due to its unique status of being a part of China, yet being politically and economically separate. This allows Hong Kong to have access to the tremendous investment potential in/from China and yet have strict financial regulations that many investors worry about when investing in other developing markets. With the recent attention Asian economies, particularly China and its growth story, have garnered due to their growth despite the financial crises in the western regions, I daresay participants were definitely excited on explor-
ing the prospects and meeting the top finance professionals in the East Asian region. Over the course of the weeklong trip, participants had the opportunity to meet with both business and human resource representatives from J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, HSBC, Nomura, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Bloomberg and HK’s Monetary Authority. The business representatives touched upon various businesses that the institutions were into, with the main focuses being on Investment Banking services such as M&A,
IPOs, Sales and Trading, and on Transactional Banking services (which is quite under explored by many students). They also shared many of their experiences, and decision-making processes they used when deciding on why to work in financial services on why to work in Hong Kong. According to the different representatives, one of the top reasons for choosing Hong Kong, is that it is is a very international place to work. This was made obvious as many of the business representatives come from very diverse backgrounds be it nationality, education, or even previous work experiences. Mr Felix Lee, a VP from Deutsche Bank and a passionate LSE Alumni is
an outstanding example. He studied law at the LSE and worked as a lawyer upon graduation. After a few years of hard work, an opportunity to move to join the IBD front office of Deutsche Bank opened up for him. He took the leap despite knowing little about the industry back then, and today, he is a successful investment banker who is sharing a deal he has recently closed (AIA’s USD 1.7 B acquisition of ING Malaysia Insurance Unit) in detail and using terminology that even some of the finance graduates have little clue about. According to him, the bank places more importance on one’s intelligence, ability to work well in teams, and passion to perform. The consensus amongst the other senior professionals we have met was similar. Potential candidates do not need a finance background to pursue a career in financial services, and most of the time do not need to be able to speak Mandarin/Cantonese for most roles in financial services in Hong Kong based roles. One thing I find particularly interesting is that how wide a scope hires to the graduate programs are able to explore. Take Max, another alumni from the LSE and is in apart of the China Coverage team of Deutsche Bank as an example. Due to the less developed market of Asia (relative to US/UK) and smaller deal sizes he participates in, he is able to not just do the financial modeling but also deal directly with the senior management of companies he works with, something that will be rare in a bulge bracket bank in more developed markets. He also has the opportunity to touch on a wider array of banking products such as M&A, IPO, Rights Issues and more because of the slightly different way teams are structured here, granting very high exposure and potentially, faster career progression. On the human resources side, the head of recruitments could not stop emphasizing the importance
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of spring and summer internships as they fast trek successful interns into the graduate program, and typically fill up their graduate class with their own past interns. Therefore, piece of advice for students keen on Investment Banking – do your research, pick a company you like and do your internships for them! Aside from the core “business” side of the trip, there was free time in between for participants to explore Hong Kong as well. The organizers, Kitty and Kevin were always keen to give tips on where to visit, and some participants who were local enthusiastically showed participants who were foreigners around Hong Kong. As one of the participants, I found that despite being extremely packed and crowded, Hong Kong does have its charms. The food was fantastic; the view of the skyline is breathtaking, especially from the Peak and the bay area; and the fusion of east with west, and old with new is really unique to Hong Kong. However, word of caution is that though useful, I felt that the trip was more catered towards first years and penultimate students, as the advertised opportunities are mostly for internships. Nevertheless, final years students that participated in Asia Exposure 2012 would have had a good takeaway from the networking sessions and definitely a clearer picture of their next career steps. All in all, I think Asia Exposure 2012 was a good experience that I am sure the participants enjoyed. It is a good experience for those interested in the financial services industry, especially non-locals who are seeking employment in Hong Kong as it gives a glimpse of life in Hong Kong as well. For those who missed the 2012 trip, do look forward to the one in 2013!
Asian Adventures: LSE Alumni on Careers in Asia By Nico Nalbantian Name: Dmitry Lapidus Degree studied at LSE and year graduated: BSc Government and Economics, 2012 Nationality: British/Russian/Italian 1. What is your job out in Hong Kong? I work for the Fundamental Equity portfolio management team at BlackRock in Hong Kong, trading the local markets and investing in undervalued companies across South East Asia and the APAC region as a whole. 2. What led you to choosing to work in Asia? Was it by design or more unexpected? Moving to Asia had always been in the back of my mind. I was lucky to have grown up and lived in several different countries prior to attending LSE and I studied Mandarin at university so a move here just seemed like the next logical step. 3. How different is it from home? Have you acclimatised easily? Hong Kong is certainly different to any other city I have experienced. It is a busy cosmopolitan city of 7m people and gargantuan skyscrapers bundled against a backdrop of pristine forests, beaches and hills – the best of both worlds. As a port city it is also incredibly international so in many regards it is similar to London. You can certainly feel
the interaction of East and West here and it is very easy to get used to the way of life. I was shocked at how efficient it was to set up my life here having never visited Asia prior to arriving for my first day of work! 4. Do you feel that the environment provided by LSE prepared you for living in Hong Kong? I think LSE does a fantastic job of introducing people to a multitude of different cultures and customs so I didn’t ever really have a culture shock when I arrived. Funnily enough I sometimes feel that Hong Kong is like a macrocosm of LSE in that it is extraordinarily international and revolves so much around the interaction of economics, finance and politics – something very fitting for Asia’s largest financial and trading hub. 5. What advice would you wish you had been given when you first arrived? Prepare yourself for the unbelievable humidity! The summer months are unbearably sticky and even now in February it is 23 degrees and 70% humidity so there’s no real concept of seasons. Very different when you’re used to Russian snow and British rain! 6. Is it an exciting place to live? Definitely. It is a city that genuinely never sleeps and a hub that is a hop, skip and a jump from some fantastic regional destinations. I plan on exploring Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and of course China in the coming months. 7. How is the night life? Hong Kong is pretty much the perfect blend of London, New York and Shanghai with a wide array of things to do. There are plenty of awesome little bars, galleries and speakeasies tucked in non-de-
script buildings that are gems the locals tend to keep pretty quiet. The same goes for restaurants and the famous private kitchens that spring up around town. Then there is the notorious Lan Kwai Fong – you really have to see it for yourself. 8. If you had to return to Europe, what one thing would you take back from your adventures in Hong Kong? If I could, it would have to be the view from the top of the Peak on Hong Kong Island as the sun is rising. Or the delicious local food! Name: Martin Ryland Degree studied at LSE and year graduated: BSc International Relations, graduated 2010 MSc International Relations, graduated 2012 Nationality: Norwegian/Czech 1. What is your job out in Japan? My job is in procurement for IHI, one of the largest heavy industries companies in Japan. Basically, I work with boilers for coal-fired power plants. I negotiate and purchase ancillary machinery that make the boilers work efficiently: accumulators, hydraulic pressurizers, acoustic cleaning devices, etc.
activity and/or impressive internships on your CV it was quite hard to find a job that I wanted to do in England. In this sense, moving to Japan was conditioned largely by path-dependency. I had lived in Japan for my gap year after high school, which made it easier for me to get an internship with the European Union’s delegation to Japan in between my Bachelor and Masters. By then my Japanese was fluent enough to work solely in Japanese, and on quite technical projects. However, I doubt I would have come back to Japan if getting a good job in London had been a little bit easier at the time. However, realistically, Tokyo was the only real option for me. If I couldn’t do my dream job, and how to take a couple year doing something I’m not truly passionate about, why not do it somewhere where you stand out a little more? 3. How different is it from home? Have you acclimatised easily? Depends on where you consider home. People are basically the same no matter where you go, but in Japan the outer shell is harder to break through. You are often treated as someone’s foreign (gaijin) friend, feeling more like an exhibition rather than an actual person. It took me around 6 months to actually make a Japanese proper friend, and even now my other foreign friends largely outnumber my true Japanese friends. 4. Do you feel that the environment provided by LSE prepared you for living in Japan?
2. What led you to choosing to work in Asia? Was it by design or more unexpected? Very unexpected. In general, business was pretty bad in Europe and without a stellar extracurricular
Yes and no. LSE is international the most international place I’ve ever been, whereas in Tokyo, internationalization is more feared, and the term is generally used with a negative by-meaning. Living in London has made it a lot easier to reach out to people of foreign cultures. In Tokyo, that means that every time you meet a fellow for-
eigner, conversation flows more naturally, and you can end up quite close, quite quickly. That is one of the things the LSE teaches better than any other. How to treat people based on their personalities, rather than just cultural stereotypes. 5. What advice would you wish you had been given when you first arrived? Don’t expect to become a part of society immediately. You will be placed on the outside for quite a long time. 6. Is it an exciting place to live? Most definitely so. Temples are a train ride away, and then you can go clubbing in Shibuya or lounge about the bars and cafés of Shimokitazawa and Kichijouji. I absolutely love the attention to quality here. 7. How is the night life? Good, as long as you know where to go. Clubs are fun, I guess, but the real clincher are the tucked away bars and restaurants that you suddenly end up finding your way into when you miss your last train home. 8. If you had to return to Europe, what one thing would you take back from your adventures in Japan? I guess the experience of being treated differently from everyone else. How although there are no bad intentions, you never properly feel as an integrated part of society. I would make sure I never treated anyone like that again.
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Washington to Beijing: The Effect of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on both economies By Kimberly Tong
The US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue(S&ED) was established by President Obama and President Hu in 2009, as a framework for two of the largest economies in the world to mutually cooperate and coordinate on macroeconomic and major issues of the world economics. It is also to enhance mutual understanding, and mutual trust. Previous S&EDs have discussed a range of mutual concerning topics. I shall refer to the latest meeting in 2012, as the symbol on how beneficial the S&ED has been for both economies. To define on how “beneficial” the S&ED has been for both economies, one view would be see the “immeasurable progress made” regarding communication (Danielle Kurtzleben, business and economics reporter). China and US have reached an agreement to have China increase Open Trade and Development, and to increase the amount of money that foreigners can invest in the Chinese domestic market. This is to encourage China to move away from its export-led growth, and more towards consumption-led business model, which would be more advantageous to the US markets.
With better understanding of the how the different government operates, a positive view would be that the US could tap into the huge Chinese domestic markets. However, as of such China should reduce the trade barriers on for more US exports, which could help rebalance the trade deficit with China. China is still very much dominated by state-owned banks, which prefers large state enterprises(Secretary Geithner). It is presumptuous to assume a whole country’s system will transform overnight, but gradual progression is being made. Experts like Elizabeth Economy (C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations)does state that bilateral leverage has never really been exerted by either sides. Interestingly enough, it has still been on the agenda of the S&ED. For one, the US trade deficit has increased every year since 1988. This reflects America’s growing trade gap with China, with the 2011 figures to be US$295 billion, and 2012 figures to be US $318 billion. According to President Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing(AAM), this growing trade deficit has costed millions of lost US manufacturing jobs. To be concise, the Economic Policy Institute showed the figures to be US$2.7 million jobs in the last decade (2012). Curiously, converse evidence counters towards the trade liberalization which was so much sought after by the US. Most economists are of the view that free trade is a win for all countries involved. A recent working paper of Fed’s Justin Pierce and Yale’s Peter Schott argues that it was the 2000 granting of the Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) that would have helped employment growth by an estimated 10%, instead of a shrinking of the manufacturing industry. The PNTR is a legal designation for
the US to offer another nation(in this case, China)all trade advantages, such as low tariff. However, this means that it was the absence of job growth, not the concerning job losses, which caused such a negative effect upon manufacturing employment. This suggests that trade liberalization contributed greatly to the decline of the US manufacturing industry. It has been in the 2012 S&ED agenda to “encourage open trade and investment”. While converse evidence may point towards this affecting the US manufacturing industry, the two country’s commitment towards building a more open global trade system and resisting protectionism contributes to build trust between the two countries. Guanxi(Connections) still play a huge role in business making in China. It would be beneficial for the US to gain greater understanding of the political dynamic at play within China. China’s ability to ship low-priced goods has been beneficial for the Chinese economy growth, with China being the third largest economy in the world (Source: International Monetary Fund 2011), and the world’s largest exporter since 2011. China’s unprecedented growth over the past 30 years have had been heavily dependent on exports. This ensures that the Chinese too has vested interest in maintaining a stable and expanding US economy. Millions of Chinese migrant workers also depends on export manufacturing jobs for their livelihood. As of yet, the Chinese economy must continue selling Chinese manufactured goods to the US in the short-term. Thus, the S&ED would ensure that progress would be made for mutual respect and mutual cooperation, with the top agenda in the S&ED 2012 being to build a sustainable global growth.
Innovation is the US’s comparative advantage expressed in technology goods, but also medical and other advanced equipment. Unfortunately as Chinese intellectual property rights is currently inadequate, it is simple to see why US firms may have objections towards having their innovations “stolen” and reverse-engineered in short order, as restrictions are also driven by national security. As the US innovation advantage is extorted, US’s decision to export a scanty sum of computer equipment, over Scrap Metal can be seen in the Exports Table below (2011).
This effect of China’s weak intellectual property rights can be seen as having the powerful mutual gains undermined. As a result, the US is not making the gains it should, regarding trade. The S&ED has been beneficial in reinforcing the US’s concerns and enacting the Chinese to give an appropriate measure to this problem. Intellectual property remains a core issue, but concrete action still needs to be undertaken to override this disadvantage. Another problem regarding US trade is that of Chinese subsidies, in the form of cheap land, energy, and other inputs, implicit financial transfers, and regulatory protection. All of this is to ensure the dominance of State-Owned Entreprise (SOE), which suppresses import competition. Most importantly, almost all of the Chinese banks are state-owned, which is a leverage to control the rest of the economy. The Stateen table shows the 18 sectors the Chinese State must have majority control over.
Whilst state control is undefined, foreign firms are blocked from having a market-leader role, with foreign banks and insurers having less than 2% of sector assets. Stateowned banks also make as much as 80% loans to SOEs, with the central government concerned on the amount of credit going to private firms. This gives less opportunity space for the US firms to penetrate the Chinese market. Perhaps the S&ED is truly important – not necessarily in concrete measures, but in bringing concerning issues up front. The US will find beneficial to understand more and gain a measurements of the Chinese subsidies in place, according to Derek Scissors, Senior Research Fellow for Asia Economics at The Heritage Foundation. Until then, US goods and services will be blocked by Chinese subsidies, which is harmful to US exports to China. The benefit of the latest S&ED in 2012 has China acknowledging to develop a market of fair competition to enterprises of all kinds of ownership. The US problem has been addressed, and only time will tell of whether concrete measures will take place. At the same time, S&ED has seen a gradual progression from economic reforms to financial reforms, as argued by Dan Steinbock, Research Director of International Business at the India, China and America Institute. The latest S&ED brokered a deal that will let foreign groups establish joint venture brokerages for Chinese commodity futures. Some experts have expressed the view that the RMB would become a
Source: United States Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, U.S. International Trade Statisticshttp://censtats.census.gov/cgi-bin/naic3_6/naicCty.pl.
China did however; agree to continue its permanent campaign against intellectual property theft.
key commodities currency, in “just 10~20 years”. With its high global demands for commodities, along
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with continued urbanization and rising inflation, the latest S&ED may have a benefit of ensuring China having a say in setting commodities prices. In recent years, Chinese Yuan has undergone its goal of having a currency which trades relatively freely, or convertible by 2015. Accordingly, China began to internationalize the Yuan while launching a pioneer scheme which allows certain Chinese regions to pay for their imports and exports in Yuan, before allowing all Chinese regions in March, 2012 to pay for the above mentioned in Yuan.
brought up huge controversy over the recent years. Contrary to objections, this does ensure the US will be enjoying lower consumer prices, allows the US economy to grow by have government federal programs funded and also keeping US interest rates low. The argument is that this will ensure the Chinese Yuan to be always lower than that of the US dollar, which helps to keep its export prices competitive. This gives the Chinese discreet interest: if the Chinese were to ever to sell part of its debt holdings, the US interest rate would rise, thus causing slower US economic growth.
cial issues which would affect both China and in the US. The Chinese financial markets have much to be reformed, with the Chinese markets still being relatively closed to foreign investors and firms. However, it must be noted that the Chinese’s gradual economic success was approached with both caution and ambition. The US has stated its concerns, and a verbal agreement has been acknowledged, by both parties. To a large extent, cooperation could be seen from progress attained, but far more concrete measures still have be undertaken to safeguard US’s trading problems. Sources: • http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/05/01/3-hurdles-to-us-china-economic-dialogue?page=2 • http://www.treasury.gov/presscenter/press-releases/Pages/tg1567. aspx • http://chinausfocus.com/finance-economy/from-economic-reforms-to-financial-reforms/ • http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/blog/does-ustrade-deficit-china-ebb-and-flow • http://www.chinadaily.com. cn/business/2012-05/05/content_15217009.htm • http://www.heritage.org/research/ testimony/2012/07/the-most-important-chinese-trade-barriers
Whilst this is good for the Chinese to continue their currency exchange reform, many Americans are of the view that Chinese currency policies are harmful to the US economy. To their credit, Chinese did take some action to reach a mutual cooperative standpoint, as acknowledged by the US treasury in 2012, for “gradually allowing necessary external adjustments to take place” . Beijing has moved its peg to the dollar in 2010, and the RMB has appreciated by 8% since then. Since the S&ED in 2010, China has defrosted its exchange rate, which is beneficial to the US price competitiveness. Chinese
At the same time, the latest S&ED has China promise to continue its currency exchange reform. The first Hong Kong-London forum has been seen recently to promote offshore RMB businesses, which had pledged to “cooperate in boosting” the concerning offshore business. As a result of years of currency turmoil with the US, perhaps one of the benefits is China accelerating its speed towards RMB internationalization. This would enhance the position of the Yuan and decrease China’s dependence upon the US dollar. In conclusion, the S&ED has been beneficial towards enhancing the communication and raising cru-
A career in law.
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LAW A Head Start
legal market by investigating the high-growth market in China and its relationship to the global legal industry.
Law Conference 2012: China in the Global Convergence
‘Global convergence’ refers to the meeting and merging of markets around the world, which has been the trend in recent years, as illustrated by the widespread globalisation of brands and corporate expansions into the international markets. China, as a high-growth economy, is currently at the heart of this convergence – increased expansion into the Chinese market in the forms of M&A, cross-border capital market transactions, as well as strategic alliances. As the cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland offices grows increas-
By Emily Ting
On December 22nd, 120 students from top universities in the UK and Hong Kong attended the 2012 Law Conference organised by the LSE’s Asian Careers Society. Held in Hong Kong, the theme for the very first student driven Law Conference was ‘China in the Global Convergence’. The purpose of the conference was for students from both law and non-law backgrounds to enhance their commercial awareness and interest in the Chinese
ingly intimate, this phenomenon is undoubtedly of great interest to current and future lawyers. The conference opened with a highly stimulating discussion about the rule of law in China, a crucial principle of governance and the context in which commercial dealings take place. Professor Benny Tai of the University of Hong Kong presented his conception of ‘the rule of law at four levels’ and discussed the current status of the rule of law in China with Mr Rico Chan, Head of Baker & McKenzie’s Real Estate and Hotel Practice Group, and Mr Dennis Kwok, a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council and Election Committee Member for the legal functional constituen-
cy. I found their discussion of the ‘limitation from law’, the aspect of the rule of law that imposes limits such as constitutional and judicial limitation as well as accountability on the exercise of governmental powers, particularly thought provoking. Allen & Overy Greater China Senior Partner Mr Joseph Tse subsequently shared his views on the evolution of the legal services market in China over the past two decades. Insight into this development was fascinating, especially with the increasingly close relationship between Hong Kong and mainland offices as China’s economy continues to grow. China has seen a rapid growth in the value and volume of inbound and outbound M&A and IPO since its admission to the World Trade Organisation a decade ago. This was further examined in the first panel discussion of the day, on inbound investments, in which Mr Rico Chan was joined by Deacons Partner Ms Catherine Zheng, and Herbert Smith Freehills Partner and Head of Greater China international arbitration practice Mr Justin D’Agostino in sharing his views on trends in inbound investments and obstacles hindering inbound investments in China. They concurred that although inbound investments in China declined in the first quarter of 2012, possibly due to the eurozone crisis, the US and BRIC economies will act as the wheels that drive inbound M&A in the near future as they attempt to revive growth in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The speakers also discussed the factors that hinder the growth of inbound M&A; Ms Zheng highlighted cultural barriers between Chinese and foreign companies – Chinese companies have more complex structures with family networks and closer relationships with central or local government – the different corporate cultures sometimes cannot integrate, resulting in failed mergers.
We had a networking luncheon with the speakers, some of whom were also Graduate Recruitment Partners; they shared their experiences of their legal careers and lives as lawyers and partners in leading firms, and it was a fantastic opportunity for participants to chat with them in a more relaxed setting.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Partner and China Chairman Ms Teresa Ko then presented a case study, sharing with all of us her experiences in advising BOCI Asia Limited, as the sole placing agent, on the RMB-denominated share placement by Hopewell Highway Infrastructure. Ms Ko outlined the significance of Hong Kong as
In the subsequent panel discussion on outbound investments, Hogan Lovells Partner and Head of Asia Corporate Mr Jamie Barr, Linklaters Corporate Partner Mr Craig Dally, and Skadden Partner Mr Alan Schiffman discussed China’s outbound M&A and IPOs. They highlighted the lack of transparency and communication between Chinese and foreign companies as obstacles towards outbound investments: the Chinese government’s bureaucratic approach to processing outbound investments, including a lack of explanation about future plans and a closed decision-making process, have caused many big M&A deals to fail, although Chinese outbound M&A transactions have doubled in the past 5 years. The two panel discussions and the Q&A sessions afterwards were stimulating, and it certainly opened me up to thinking about markets, investment trends and their relationship to the legal sector.
a leading fundraising centre, giving examples of the Agricultural Bank of China and the AIA listings, and also as the premier offshore RMB business centre, explaining the RMB bond markets and trade settlements. She explained that through the placement of 120 million shares that will be priced and traded at RMB3.22 each on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, up to RMB375 million was expected to be raised. ‘This was a milestone transaction which diversified RMB product offerings in Hong Kong, and opened up opportunities of the new RMB-trading counter,’ she said, referring to the dual-counter trading arrangement of the deal, which allows investors to sell and transfer shares from the HKD to RMB. In the last session of the day Davis Polk Partner Ms Bonnie Chan gave a highly informative review of capital markets in China and in Hong Kong in 2012. 2012 has been a
23 | Law
cy. I found their discussion of the ‘limitation from law’, the aspect of the rule of law that imposes limits such as constitutional and judicial limitation as well as accountability on the exercise of governmental powers, particularly thought provoking. Allen & Overy Greater China Senior Partner Mr Joseph Tse subsequently shared his views on the evolution of the legal services market in China over the past two decades. Insight into this development was fascinating, especially with the increasingly close relationship between Hong Kong and mainland offices as China’s economy continues to grow. China has seen a rapid growth in the value and volume of inbound and outbound M&A and IPO since its admission to the World Trade Organisation a decade ago. This was further examined in the first panel discussion of the day, on inbound investments, in which Mr Rico Chan was joined by Deacons Partner Ms Catherine Zheng, Latham & Watkins Office Managing Partner Mr Michael Liu, and Herbert Smith Freehills Partner and Head of Greater China international arbitration practice Mr Justin D’Agostino in sharing his views on trends in inbound investments and obstacles hindering inbound investments in China. They concurred that although inbound investments in China declined in the first quarter of 2012, possibly due to the eurozone crisis, the US and BRIC economies will act as the wheels that drive inbound M&A in the near future as they attempt to revive growth in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. The speakers also discussed the factors that hinder the growth of inbound M&A; Ms Zheng highlighted cultural barriers between Chinese and foreign companies – Chinese companies have more complex structures with family networks and closer relationships with central or local government – the different corporate cultures some-
times cannot integrate, resulting in failed mergers. We had a networking luncheon with the speakers, some of whom were also Graduate Recruitment Partners; they shared their experiences of their legal careers and lives as lawyers and partners in leading firms, and it was a fantastic opportunity for participants to chat with them in a more relaxed setting. In the subsequent panel discussion on outbound investments, Hogan Lovells Partner and Head of Asia Corporate Mr Jamie Barr, Linklaters Corporate Partner Mr Craig Dally, and Skadden Partner Mr Alan Schiffman discussed China’s outbound M&A and IPOs. They highlighted the lack of transparency and communication between Chinese and foreign companies as obstacles towards outbound investments: the Chinese government’s bureaucratic approach to processing outbound investments, including a lack of explanation about future plans and a closed decision-making process, have caused many big M&A deals to fail, although Chinese outbound M&A transactions have doubled in the past 5 years. The two panel discussions and the Q&A sessions afterwards were stimulating, and it certainly opened me up to thinking about markets, investment trends and their relationship to the legal sector. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Partner and China Chairman Ms Teresa Ko then presented a case study, sharing with all of us her experiences in advising BOCI Asia Limited, as the sole placing agent, on the RMB-denominated share placement by Hopewell Highway Infrastructure. Ms Ko outlined the significance of Hong Kong as a leading fundraising centre, giving examples of the Agricultural Bank of China and the AIA listings, and also as the premier offshore
RMB business centre, explaining the RMB bond markets and trade settlements. She explained that through the placement of 120 million shares that will be priced and traded at RMB3.22 each on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, up to RMB375 million was expected to be raised. ‘This was a milestone transaction which diversified RMB product offerings in Hong Kong, and opened up opportunities of the new RMB-trading counter,’ she said, referring to the dual-counter trading arrangement of the deal, which allows investors to sell and transfer shares from the HKD to RMB.
L to R: Noble Mak, Ms. Teresa Ko
In the last session of the day Davis Polk Partner Ms Bonnie Chan gave a highly informative review of capital markets in China and in Hong Kong in 2012. 2012 has been a relatively volatile year; but despite the global economic uncertainty and Asian IPO slowdown, China maintains its position as market leader – as evidenced by the largest-ever, multi-billion mega IPO of the Agricultural Bank of China. The ups and downs of 2012, especially concerning China investments, should probably be kept in mind while we observe and explore China’s position in the global convergence in future. All in all, it was an ‘extremely well organised and managed conference on a very interesting and relevant topic’, as Mr Jamie Barr, one
of the panellists, put it, in an email to all attendees after the event. Personally, I am glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this informative and stimulating conference. The wide variety of speakers from an array of practice areas and leading firms were enthusiastic in sharing with us their experiences and opinions on trends and issues concerning China’s market and investments. With the chance to interact with legal elites and to discuss a truly relevant topic for tomorrow’s lawyers, I daresay that the participants would agree that the conference was a success.
One Firm Gives a Taste, Eleven Create a Brace By Tiffany Chang and Zoe Tang In the cold and festive December, 25 LSE law students decided to take a break from Santa for four days and sally forth to eleven leading international law firms to take part in ACS’ annual Legal Insight. Legal Insight provided a valuable opportunity for participants to probe into what the exclusive legal market has to offer upon LSE graduation. This trip includes firmbased presentations, networking events and case study sessions.
Michael Liu, the Office Managing Partner at the Hong Kong office of Latham & Watkins, suggested that
the uniqueness of the city, where the West is in the East, is what makes the firm establishment of the fatherly link between China and Hong Kong possible. Joyce, a trainee at Linklaters’ Office, is an American-born Chinese who started her career in Hong Kong after graduating from an American law school. She also echoed Liu’s view that it is the city’s exclusive advantage in geographical, legal, cultural and historical aspects, which brings about the practicality and probability in Hong Kong leading lawyers’ participation in high-profile deals with multinational corporations, but predominantly Chinese enterprises. Participants experienced a handson session in a case study offered by Baker and McKenzie. In which first and second year students worked on two separate cases and were subsequently divided into two opposing teams to argue their stands. A trainee was assigned to each team, who guided participants through the cases and explained the relevant laws and procedures at court. Bryan Ng, Associate of the Litigation Department, demonstrated the role of a counsel in court and highlighted the importance of oratory techniques in the feedback session. A similar opportunity was kindly offered by Clifford Chance, in which participants were faced with a case concerned with the collision of two ships, raising both legal and business questions, giving participants a taste of complicity and reality. David Winfield, partner of the Hong Kong office, illustrated the importance of teamwork as a leading-firm solicitor, during a team building exercise at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The exercise served to emphasis the significance of interpersonal skills within the team as well as liaisons across different teams in large-scale deals.
In the 21st Century, all roads lead to China. Although employees are not expected to have the competency of a translator, emphasises had been placed on the ability to communicate adequately in Mandarin, necessitating the ability to both read and write in Chinese for all members across the entire hierarchy in every firms. On top of that, it should be noted that overseas applicants have to pass all the relevant conversion exams in order to be able to practise in Hong Kong. Finally, before being qualified as a lawyer in Hong Kong, law graduates have to complete the Postgraduate Certification in Laws (PCLL) programme in order to equip the relevant practical skills needed as a lawyer, be it solicitor or barrister, at either the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong or City University of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Santa seems to have made an unnecessary ride to town this December for the 25 of us. The reward of having the opportunity to liaise with partners, human resources managers of leading law firms, acknowledgement of their respective recruitment requirements as well as the opportunity to learn from experienced members was overwhelmingly enriching. Better luck to Santa next year when he decides to clash with the LSESU ACS Legal Insight.
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Independence, Neutrality and Serving the Public Interest - An Interview with Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma By Nico Nalbantian
In August 2012, I was able to enjoy the glorious summer weather of Hong Kong on my way to LSE’s joint summer school in Beijing with Peking University. While in Hong Kong I was offered the opportunity to speak with Hong Kong’s Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma at the Court of Final Appeal. Perched on the top of Battery Park in Central, surrounded by greenery, the Court of Final Appeal is housed in the former French Mission Building and makes for a welcome change in scenery from the base of the HSBC building a few meters below. It is within these surroundings I was
welcomed into the office of Chief Justice Ma. To provide some historical background, prior to 1997, the Hong Kong judiciary had the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong as its most senior judge. With the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, the title was changed to Chief Judge of the High Court and the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeals assumed the leading role of the Hong Kong Judiciary. This office, like much of Hong Kong’s unique culture and governance, reflects the dichotomy of having in the past been a British colony and the present status of being a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. Under the Basic Law, the constitutional document of Hong Kong, the city remains a common law jurisdiction as opposed to Mainland China’s civil law model. This means that the Final Court of Appeal is tasked with final interpretation of all of Hong Kong’s laws save the Basic Law. The power of interpretation of the Basic Law lies with the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress as stated in Article 158 of the Basic Law. Within this context, Chief Justice Ma enforces the laws and rights of the people of Hong Kong.
With the growing concern the people of Hong Kong have about what they see as the increasing influence of Beijing, questions have been raised over the real independence of Hong Kong’s special administrative region status. With tens of thousands of protestors against Beijing in January 2013 and Chinese citizens on the mainland angry about their portrayal in shows such as ‘Inbound Trouble’ the tendency is to look to and lobby institutions like the Hong Kong judiciary. Chief Justice Ma would say that it is wrong to attempt to demagogue the judiciary. An example of its commitment to judicial neutrality and independence, the Hong Kong judiciary in the determination of cases will not look to what certain members of the public, the majority of the public or even the government considers the desirable outcome in any given case. In order to serve the public interest it is important for the court to stay committed to the fundamental concepts of fairness, dignity and justice. This is the key to the rule of law in Hong Kong. To alter such a commitment as a means to a political end would threaten the principle of equality before the law. Likewise, it is up to the people of Hong Kong, to ensure that judicial decisions are respected, especially that a ‘loser’ abides by the court’s rulings. It is this commitment that serves the public interest: an adherence to the principles of fairness, equality and dignity of the people’s rights no matter who the citizen may be. Due to the contentious nature of Hong Kong’s place in China, the courts periodically need to deal with legal questions arising out of political matters. These may be areas ranging from the 1999 right of abode controversy to more recent conflicts between residents of Hong Kong and their fellow citizens on the mainland. No matter the nature of political issue, Chief Justice Ma maintains that judicial ac-
tivities ought not to be politicised. This is absolutely not a criticism of independent citizens utilising their freedom of speech, a guaranteed fundamental right in Hong Kong. However, the courts and judges will not be influenced by outside opinions, no matter how vehemently they are expressed. This contrasts to the highly politicised nature of the American Supreme Court whose Justices are often ranked in the press by where they rank in the political spectrum. It would seem that Chief Justice Ma has the support of the Department of Justice as Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen stated at the opening of the 2013 Legal Year that: “unlike the political process the judicial process is not subject to any lobbying, and should not be so.” While there is no doubt, like any judicial system, that Hong Kong courts will continue to face challenging legal questions, one can be confident that Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma and his peers will protect the judicial independence and neutrality of the Hong Kong judiciary. Hong Kong is rated by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy as having the best judicial system in Asia. To quote the Chief Justice on the subject: “There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Hong Kong has a fearless and independent Judiciary, and that the concept of the independence of the Judiciary - a concept that is synonymous with Hong Kong’s success in many people’s minds - very much exists in Hong Kong.” Highlighting how a vigilant judiciary navigating the dynamic legal questions arising from the vigorous people and city of Hong Kong protects the city’s public interest.
When Politics Meets the Rule of Law (i) Interview with the Honourable Alan Leong Kah-Kit By Kimberly Tong
We have just been called into the cosy office on the 5th floor of the newly built Legislative Council building. Outside was the hustle-and-bustle of the Central district. Inside, was a completely different story. Comfortingly at ease and casually dignified in a stripped maroon woollen sweater-and-tie combination with a crisp white shirt, Alan Leong Kah-Kit reflected his surroundings: calm, yet attentive. Having graduated with an LLB and LLM in the University of Hong Kong and the University of Cambridge respectively, Mr Leong was the Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association from 2001-2003,before embarking upon his political career. Mr Leong founded the Concern Group in 2003 due to the legislation of the Basic Law Article 23. This later became the Article 45 Concern Group, and also sparked the founding of Civic Party, amidst other supporters. Currently, Leong is the leader of the Civic Party, and Audrey Eu (whom we interviewed in the next article) the Chairperson of the Civic Party. And so began a one and a half hour of chatting…
1. We know the motivation behind your decision of becoming a politician was when you decided to defend the legal certainty of Hong Kong by standing up against Article 23 of the Basic Law. Nevertheless, why did you decide to continue your political career? You are right; It all started with the Article 23 of the Basic Law. I have never dreamt of being a politician. As a defendant of the Rule of Law, I have no choice but to stand up for institution – to see to it, that is being sustained. The saga (which took 15 to 16 months - K. Tong) allowed me to meet characters from different backgrounds, ones that senior councillors never get to meet. Under the exposure and interaction, people started asking me to run for public office. The defining incident was the Candlelight Virgil at the Charter Gardens on the 9th of July, 2003. When I set foot on stage, the MC asked me, in front of the 55 thousand (as reported) present, to run for the Legislative Council. On the stage, at that night, I had a complete case of stage fright. I recalled replying to their calls: “You yourselves are the ones to thank. I asked to be given time to think. The next 7 -8 months were a long and tortuous process. I had only took silk in 1998, the 1st after the return of sovereignty. Thus, being relatively young, I would have wanted more time for more great cases. 2003 presented me with opportunity. I went through a soul-seeking process. With a young family, I knew what I was getting into. At best, I would only be able to keep 1/6 of my practice. Of course, the rest is history.
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(Mr Leong decided to run against Mr Donald Tsang, but unfortunately lost in the Chief Executive election.) Firstly, I really wanted to see the core values of Hong Kong: the love for liberty, human rights, and the desire for a democratic Hong Kong not to vanish and be “mainlandised” too soon. I know how fragile the rule of law is. Secondly, I still think Hong Kong is unique in contemporary China. Sun Yat-Sen, the Father of Modern China, confessed in 1923 that his desire to learn more about the Western rule of law and was inspired by his 3 years of higher education whilst at Hong Kong (Sun Yat-Sen was a medical student. -K. Tong) Sun’s words were “There is a task yet unaccomplished. Comrades, we have to work harder.” In my opinion, Hong Kong has served China as it has served a century or so ago. Hong Kong must sustain its own value and systems. 2. How do you think young lawyers could equip themselves for 2047? There are only two destinies, destinations. 1) Hong Kong “mainlandized”: bigger remit than simply adopting
laws. 2) Mainland “Hong Kong-ized”. We should not be dwarfed by Chinese history. Nor should we belittle ourselves. China would one day be a world citizen, embrace the same global values which liberated the world. Universal suffrage, once it has been given, cannot be taken away. Hong Kong was the experiment, but it can also be applied. It is important for law students to take need of this fact. Why do I want to see universal suffrage in Hong Kong? It is the only ultimate safe-guard for the Rule of Law to be sustainable. In Chinese History, young emperors put themselves beneath the Law. Yet, when they are older, corrected by power, they want to be above the Law. Without institution to put into place, the Rule of Law cannot be safe-guarded. If Hong Kong can sustain this, this will be the model for the rest of China. I am not saying that Hong Kong has a perfect system, but I am quite sure that one day, the micro and continental system will meet at a mid-point. I think of the Rule of Law as an institution represented by a set of values and principles. My advice to law students would be: do not ignore jurisprudence. I understand we all have a hard time studying it as law students, but it’s important to know of what to do, and what not to do. 3. Can you offer some advice for young undergraduate law students or young lawyers?
My advice would be to read more widely, make more friends from all around the world and widen your horizons. Also, it is very important to learn your law. When I first took up public office, I felt very deficient. I had gone to Law School straight after matriculation, and I felt I was too young. I had adopted a tunnel notion too soon. Law students can easily end up with too narrow a vision. It is very fortunate that I have been very active in non-academic activities since Form Four. Don’t just bury yourself in your books. It is brilliant that you are studying abroad, so make the most out of it. 4. How did you manage to persevere when encountering stress from the opposition and critics every now and then? Basically, I am facing myself. What do I treasure in life? Life is transient, but you would wish to leave a legacy of yourself. After the few months of soul-searching before deciding to run for Chief Executive, I reflected on what I treasure in life. I am aware of the consequences, and as long as my family are happy and approve of my choices, why not? In politics, it is not always reasons that prevail. I knew that, when I ran for public office. In politics, different factors are at work. 5. Some advice on how to become a successful politician in Hong Kong? Politicians are important, you may not like them, but they influence public policy making. As a lawyer, I could help a few people. As a politician, I could help a lot more. I can still assure you I do not regret
making that decision nine years ago. I had not envisioned running for Chief Executive after only 2 years short of political career. That is even more remarkable than Barack Obama! The problem with Hong Kong is: you cannot see a political career, whereas you could in say UK or US. With family and financial burdens on shoulder, how many would want to risk as a young budding politician? My more down-to-earth advice to university graduates would be: you’re young, so if you’re so passionate about politics, give it 4 to 5 years. That is just enough time to show your eagerness to serve, build your network, and participate in 1 district election. If you make it, stay on. If not, decide whether enough is enough, and perhaps go on to practice law etc. An alternate route would be similar to mine: not one of conscious choice. You can aspire as lawyers, it can happen. However, you may suffer some short-comings: less time to acquire political skills. The path I took was uniquely unusual, so I cannot say if it happens once, it can happen again in the future. I still think it is important for any vested in power to undergo what I deem a “baptism of fire”. You have to participate in elections to better understand what the people you are serving wants most. To serve in public, you have to acquire humility, and bring to the public office. The problem is that senior government officials often don’t go through an election process, and simply pay lip-service for public opinions. Under the “baptism of fire” however, you would be more amiable and receptive to public voices. 6. How can society better foster young lawyers and young politicians so that the quality of lawyers and
politicians can improve sustainably in the long-run? Society needs to learn to be more indulgent in people who practise politics. We also need a system so that budding politicians can see a career – become elected, without the fear of getting married and having children on the job. The US for one is able to keep politicians not in congress within the political network, either in a think tank, or perhaps, as researchers. However, we would need to have enough resources for such a fallback. However, lawyers owe the society everything to bestow the honour to practice law. Hence, they should not fail the expectations of the public. It is up to the training institutions, and not society, to see to it that lawyers are up to mark, and not a failing profession. Previously, I have been at pains to ask Elsie Leung(the then Secretary of Justice) to scrap Lay Prosecutors. This is so that young barristers and solicitors can sought out much important training ground. Lawyers do need training on the job after PCLL. However, it is too bad I cannot persuade Elsie (Leung). If the public does want better quality lawyers, they should be more generous to young lawyers for training. As Mr Leong’s voice trails off, we realized we had been discussing close to half an hour behind schedule. Outside, the clouds were stalling – Night time had arrived. Having learnt from him of his busy day ahead to visit a “not too small housing estate” for a restoration of piping, we could see Mr Leung’s keenness to interact and serve the public. We felt honoured to be able to interview Mr Leong, and wishes to thank him for sharing his experiences and views with us. On a personal note, I
would like to thank my team for their great support and advice for making this possible. Should you wish to get in touch with Mr Leong regarding his views, he could be reached on his Facebook page(Alan Leong Kah-Kit), and also on his blog via his website: http:// www.alanleong.com/.
When Politics Meets the Rule of Law (ii) Interview with the Honourable Audrey Eu Yuet-Mee By Kimberly Tong
Having arrived early, we arrived in the glass-tinted office of a barrister’s firm in Central on a Friday afternoon. Portraits of barristers in court dress loomed over to peer at us intently. Promptly on schedule, we are called upon to Ms Audrey Eu’s spacious office. Whilst filled with leather-bound law volumes on shelves and document piles by the windowpanes, Ms Eu’s office has a distinctively oriental touch, with its mahogany desks, chairs and Chinese water-paintings. Being raised in the Catholic faith, Ms Eu received her LLB and LLM from the University of Hong Kong and the London School of Economics and Political Science respectively. She became a successful barrister, before entering politics in 2000. She was one of the founders of the Article 23 Concern Group in 2003 due to the legislation of the Basic Law Article 23. This later became the Article 45 Concern Group, and also sparked the founding of Civic Party, amidst other supporters. Currently, Ms Eu is the
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Chairperson of the Civic Party. Dressed in a graceful slim black blouse and neatly tied grey-andwhite scarf, tweed skirt and black tights, Ms Eu was the epitome of female elegance and dignity with her thoughtful demeanour and cropped hair-do. Coolly composed, yet with an indulgent smile, which lurks from time to time, we were very kindly served warm Chinese “Heung Pin”(Flowering or Blooming Tea) tea in porcelain cups. Catching her alertly intelligent eyes, we began to converse…
law that serves people, restraining those in power and not the other way round. 2. So what practical things can we do to preserve the Rule of Law in Hong Kong? It is the duty of all lawyers. Firstly, to Speak Up! Have a stance, organize forums, write articles… there is so much you can do!
1. Advice on how to become a successful female politician or barrister?
Secondly, the Cooperation of 3 Powers. As lawyers, we would not want the Judiciary to be pressured, the relationship between the 3 Powers has to be checked and balanced.
It is not easy to have a career in politics. The colonial government did not persuade people to do so, and it was not till the late 1980s that people considered forming political parties, or universal suffrage.
Thirdly, organize activities. Invite interested legal experts to talk about it, as I did in the Article 23 Forum Group. Spark interest from Hong Kong people. It is better to have tried and failed, than to have never tried at all.
It is not easy to own a political party unless if you are pro-government, which would entitle your appointment to lucrative positions. In our system, there are no retirement positions for politicians. Your career ends if you fail in an election.
For barristers, the Bar is a professional body, and it tries to be a conscious self-governing body. From time to time, it does release a public statement, but not on the very issue of politics as it wishes to distance itself.
In Politics, there are no career ladder, no job guarantees. To me, politics is a vocation, not a job. If it were a job, I would not advise anybody to step into it! Politics is about bringing about change, and trying to advocate change, by forming pressure groups or political parties. However, Hong Kong is part of “One Country Two Systems”. If “One Country Two Systems” is to go on, it is up to everybody in Hong Kong to do something about it. To bring about change, with political parties in plural, we have to bring about what was promised in the Basic Law. In Hong Kong, it is the
3. Advice on how to become a female barrister or politician? I have never found it embarrassing, or shameful to face failure. In the
end, you only have to face yourself. My attitude in life has always been: Even if you failed, you tried, and some circumstances are beyond your control. If you run away from a problem, you will always remain on the same spot. I have never been conscious of, or felt inhibited by being a woman in politics. My role-model was my mother. She was very strongwilled– whatever men could do, women could do. She never took “No” as an excuse. She also found it a natural consequence that I would occupy first place, so there were no excuses if I were to come second in class. 4. Would you say society should take more affirmative action to encourage females to participate in politics? The government certainly tried to maintain a certain % of quota for female appointment. This can be seen from the 30% female quota in advisory, although they have never fulfilled their quota. I do understand it is not easy for any woman in this situation: they may decide to get married, have children, and perhaps decide to give up their career to look after their family. However, mine was an exception, as I was very fortunate to be married to an extremely understanding and supportive husband. It is tough for him too, as I
have functions every weekend, yet he continues to drive me to and from events in his car. Whilst I have a very busy schedule, I always wanted to spend more time with my children…although my children seem to enjoy their space! 5. Has your role as politician impacted upon your legal career in any way? Yes, of course. I have had to practically give up my legal career! Politics takes up more than a full-time job. During weekends, I have lots of function. Whilst walking on the streets, people with problems often accost me. However, I deal with matters of the Civic Party. I have to build up party cohesion, recruit new members and fund-raise etc. Whilst fund-raising is easier to do than district work, people are worried about being a sympathizer of a democratic cause. They are worried if they make donations, it may impact upon their businesses or relative in China. There are many small ways to raise fund however. In the Flower Markets, I write Chinese calligraphy and auction it to raise more for our cause. My drawings are also commercialized to sell. I had also written a book, with the proceeds as donations. 6. How do you foresee the transition of Hong Kong, from 1 Country 2 Systems to 1 Country 1 System? At present, nobody can say for certain. The belief is that China would be so modernized; it would be like the Hong Kong system. One way of looking at it is that Hong Kong and China would be have a more open, democratic government. However, equal and universal suffrage is still the main issue. Changing systems will be difficult. The other issue will be to ensure there
is an equal weighting of voters (i.e: no classifying voters). Ultimately, I do not see 2047 as the destination, or the road block. Think of yourself as a Hong Konger on the road, realizing this cause: to have our values safeguarded in Hong Kong. We have to start doing something now, not later. Knowing of her extremely packed schedule, we are grateful to Ms Eu for her generosity in taking time to share her experiences and view with us. On a personal note, I would like to thank my team for their great support and advice for making this possible. Should you wish to get in touch with Ms Eu regarding her views, she could be reached on her Facebook page (Audrey Eu Yuet-Mee), and also via her website: http://www.audreyeu. hk/en/.
In Full Swing By Howard Wong
Thousands of graduates apply to magic circle firms every year, but only a handful are lucky enough to get a place. The process from drafting an application to being interviewed is challenging, and is designed to pick out the best candidates. This article will outline the fundamentals of the application process and highlight the key elements of a successful application.
Linklaters employs approximately 2,260 advisers and 2,830 other
staff across 26 offices in 19 countries. Linklaters is concerned with big deals (‘FT front page’) and its prestige is partly due to the quality of its services. The firm works across a broad range of commercial and business law, including banking, capital markets and investment management. Every year, the firm takes a hundred applicants and gives them training contracts, which are often seen as the first step towards a successful career. Here is a basic rundown of the application process and some of the key characteristics of a successful applicant. One of your first tasks will be to complete the Watson Glaser test, which consists of questions designed to test your critical thinking skills. Specifically, these will be your skills of deduction, interpretation and evaluation. You will be given several passages to read, and you will be required to answer multiple-choice questions directly related to them. A typical passage looks like this: ‘Studies have shown that there is relatively much more heart disease among people living in the north of England than people living in the south of England. There is little if any difference, however, in rate of heart disease between northerners and southerners who have the same level of income. The average income of southerners in England is considerably higher than the average income of northerners. Inference 1 The easiest way to eliminate heart disease in England would be to raise the general standard of living. • This is true • This is probably true • There is inadequate data to support this statement • This is false • This is probably false The questions here are very similar to those in the LNAT. They require you to draw inferences from the
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passages by reading between the lines and spotting inconsistencies. The key to prevail in this test is the ability to separate the relevant points from the whole passage, without being distracted by irrelevant information. This will take some practice, and an effective way of improving your technique is to read a respectable paper every day. For practice questions and additional advice, visit the Linklaters and Hoganlovells websites. On the day of your interview you will be given a written exercise. This will usually be an email to a fictitious client asking you to provide some specific information. You will need to write in a clear and concise manner, and maintain a tight structure. Marks will be deducted for grammar mistakes and syntactical errors, as there is no excuse for poor writing. You will be pressed for time, but even so, it is always good idea to proof read what you have written, as your response will be used as the basis for discussion in your second interview. Your first interview will be competency based, which means you will be asked questions about your skills and achievements. Answers need to be in full in order to show how your experience relates to the job you’re applying for. When answering questions, it is important to market your achievements and how your skills might help the firm. If you need help with structure you may want to use the STAR technique: Situation Task Actions Results Your second interview will consist of a case study containing information about a fictitious transaction. Commercial knowledge may be useful, though the focus will be on your communication skills as well as your ability to respond to diffi-
cult questions. As most examples will be situation-based, you will be required to think on your feet. At all times, it is important to engage with the interviewers and show enthusiasm to the task before you.
Freshfields is a leading international law firm renowned for its breadth and commitment to excellence. It employs 24,00 advisors and some 3,000 other employees, and its work spans across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Given its credentials, the firm expects the best from its applicants. Academic achievement is a given (reflected in a good 2:1 degree), so the firm will be looking for other characteristics indicative of a successful lawyer. Determination and drive are essential to a successful career in the commercial world. The firm will be looking for genuine interest in commerce and the law, as well as an enthusiasm for problem solving and business transactions. The work at Freshfields will be complicated, and the hours can be long. It is not unusual to work until 4 in the morning and return to work at 9, so learning how to balance a demanding workload and a social life is important. Unlike other firms, Freshfield’s unique global reach means that its work can easily span across several jurisdictions at the same time. Freshfields are looking for graduates who have learnt an additional language, especially Chinese. Your communication skills in both written and spoken will be put to test at interview. It goes without saying that applicants need to be prepared before interview. The usual advice is to do some research on the firm before applying and be specific about its key characteristics. Because Fresh-
fields ‘shares the vision of being the best international law firm’, it is perhaps advisable to stress your interest in international dispute resolution and commerce. The ideal application is one which displays the whole package: demonstrates mastery in communication, interpersonal skills and problem-solving. It must also reflect a degree of intellectual rigor, as well as interest in the work of the firm. When drafting an application however, one must relate his/ her skill set to the unique characteristics of the firm, as every firm is different. It is therefore important that your application reflects this and shows commitment to the specific firm that you will be applying to.
‘Abenomics’: An Insight into Current Japanese Economic Reform By Megu Takagawa
Two months have passed since Mr. Abe returned to his seat which he resigned from 5 years ago. So far he seems to be quite successful in his economic policies, making it his top priority. He has pledged to put the Bank of Japan under government influence in order to set a 2% inflation target. The yen has now weakened to 93 yen per dollar, and the Japanese stock market is moving at an average of over 10000 yen. Everyone is excited about these changes but how long is it going to continue? Is it going to be a breakpoint of the Japanese economy that has been staggering for over 20 years? As a student living in Tokyo, it does well seem that everyone’s expectations towards the economy are becoming positive, but not to the extent that it will be a breakpoint for the Japanese economy that has long suffered deflation. In other words, inflation expectation is high in the short term but people are still uncertain regarding how long it will last. This is probably because there has been no big change in the structure of the economy itself and manufacturers that used to lead the economy are losing the competition against newly emerging rivals. Also, some critics have pointed out that Mr. Abe’s policies are no different from that of Mr. Koizumi’s around 10 years ago. Those Koizumi days might have been better for some people but
it clearly wasn’t an answer, seeing that Japan has now lost two decades, entering its third. PM Abe’s “Growth Strategies” are estimated to work for a short period of time; however structural reform is necessary for long term growth. For example, regulatory reforms and entering the TPP are needed so growth can be led by the private sector. The problems Japanese firms face now is the strong yen, making it hard for manufacturers to export, high corporate taxes, greenhouse gas emission regulations, etc. Despite the disadvantageous conditions, Japanese firms have been working hard to survive in the global competition. They have been seeking efficiency and cutting costs with innovations and new technology. One of the reasons why Japanese major firms have been able to survive even after the bubble burst is because of the high technological advantage they own which is founded upon elaborate research and development schemes. Manufacturers, represented by the declining electronics industry, are now struggling to keep their leading position in the world. As a result, in Japan it feels like every industry is losing competitiveness in the global market. Japan has long had a trade surplus which turned to deficit in 2011. However, there are some notable sectors that have some hope. The Anime industry is one of them. Japanese anime is becoming famous around the world and is a new source of attraction to tourists. Anime is now being exported with the government officially supporting the industry. The news that a Japanese anime will be arranged and broadcasted in India was welcomed a couple of months ago. I believe anime has become a large business within the country too. Another is Eco-business. Eco-busi-
ness is a hot topic these days as a, hopefully successful, sector in manufacturing. One reason for this is because this business sector is enlarging globally, as maintaining a sustainable environment is now a significant topic in the international society. The second is because Japan is highly competitive in this sector. From past experience, it is arguable that Japan has technological advantages when it comes to making things in an efficient and cost effective manner. For example, steel is made most efficiently in Japan and it is estimated that if the technology was applied in other steel producing countries, 340 million tons of CO2 emission could be reduced per year.1 The major manufacturing industries have succeeded to reduce their emission of greenhouse gasses by 14% on an annual average during the years 2008-2012, compared to that of 1990.2 The technology in green business could become Japan’s next leading industry in the world. Industries related to energy and electricity is also a sector that deserves attention. Since the earthquake on March 11th 2011, there has been controversy over nuclear power plants. Opinions seem to be split in half. The Fukushima disaster after the earthquake has proved that safety risks shall always exist as long as Japan keeps using nuclear energy. Still, Japan had relied on nuclear power for almost a third of its energy supplies before the earthquake3 so complete abolishment would lead to high energy costs. Many big businesses were strongly pushing the government to restart the power plants. The former government had decided to reduce the usage of nuclear energy and make it zero by 2030, but PM Abe plans to reconsider those policies believing 1 Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Company 2 Nikkei Newspaper 2013/01/27 3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worldasia-20850416
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that they would damage the economy. Japan imports nearly 100% of its energy resources so abolishing nuclear energy completely sounds very unrealistic. It looks like we need to figure out a way to coexist with nuclear power plants, reducing its risks as much as possible.
The future of Japan’s economy is not so bright. (Then again, maybe that is the case for most of the developed countries.) Still, it is not failing quite yet. It still has the third biggest GDP in the world. It has high technology, some of the world’s finest research. The biggest problem Japan faces is its inability to fit into the ever globalizing world. Japanese companies take time making decisions while their competitors are faster in gaining markets mainly in emerging countries. The lack of people who are willing to go abroad is also a challenge. High resource prices will become a huge burden on the economy if Japan decides to abolish nuclear power plants, and we all cannot foresee when the weak yen will end and the strong yen will return. Japan’s economic growth depends on whether it can overcome the challenges and reform itself. The young populations including myself see no bright future either. The best we can hope for is preservation of the status quo and nothing more. Japan has a rapidly aging and shrinking population, government debt and high social security costs are bound on future generations. What can we do about the economy? How can structural reform be done? What is the blue print? The problem is no one seems to know the answer. The policy makers are experiment-
ing as to whether bold policies will work and the people just have to wait and see how they play out. We can no longer hope for a weak yen working as an advantage for exports, labour costs are high, and firms aren’t designed to encourage innovation. Maybe we have reached the steady state leaving us no room for growth other than to be innovative which is easier said than done. Yet, Japan is a peaceful, comfortable country. I wonder if the people really expect to grow or are actually hoping for it. Japan may not be on the rising path but everyone is coping with the current situation. Yes there is deflation, life is not so easy and we aren’t as rich as we used to be before the bubble burst but it is not as though we are lacking something. We have good infrastructure, public welfare and a relatively low unemployment rate. What else can we hope for? The fact that we have nothing to hope for might exactly be the disease that is the source of all of our problems.
The Global Hu m a n i s t : An Interview with John Sayer By Justin Lai
Brief background Hong Kong
Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty. Oxfam Hong Kong began in 1976, when volunteers came together, opened a second-hand shop, and
raised funds for anti-poverty projects around the world. Some of the first actions in the 1970s and 80s were to advocate for justice in the Vietnamese Boat People/ Refugee crisis in Hong Kong, and to help save lives in Ethiopia during the 1984 famine. To date, Oxfam Hong Kong has assisted poor people in more than 70 countries/ states around the world. Oxfam Hong Kong’s work builds on our local understanding and identity and focuses on Southeast Asia and China, including Hong Kong. We also support poverty alleviation and humanitarian activities in other parts of Asia and Africa, and wherever we feel we can make the most valuable difference. Oxfam Hong Kong works with other members of the international confederation Oxfam on international campaigns and programmes supporting people’s right to development. John Sayer served as Programme Director from 1991 to 1995, and Director of Oxfam Hong Kong from 1995 to 2000, returned to the organisation and took up the position of Director General since February, 2006.
1. What motivated you to choose to work on humanitarian and development issues for Oxfam over the years? For some reason I will not analyse, I was always interested in social issues. When I was about 14, I wrote off to the United Nations Association and became a member. United Nations seemed a better idea than divided nations. I was involved in community action in the UK when I was in my teens, on issues like homelessness and housing, the squatter movement, school student’s rights, and the demonstrations against the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa. This was the 1960s, when
many of us challenged established values (on such things as women’s rights, racial discrimination, sexual orientation, consumerism, the environment). There was a huge belief that a better world was desirable and possible, and I think many attitudes were changed for the better at that time. When I reached my twenties I travelled overland to India, and there I stayed at an agricultural development programme in a village, and saw face to face what poverty meant to the lives of people I was living amongst. Several children in neighbouring houses died from curable diseases while I was living there.
2. To what degree do you think Oxfam HK/ (International) can help the most deprived in developing nations compared to other international charities and authorities? I dislike the tendency of different institutions to promote themselves by being critical of others who are trying to help with the same problems. The UN and World Bank bodies, governmental aid programmes, the NGOs and everyone else working on human development make valuable contributions, as do the new kids on the bloc: the Social Enterprises. But none of
these have the ‘one true path’ for a quick and simple solution to poverty. Social development is a clear candidate for complex systems analysis, meaning a huge range of factors have positive and negative effects, so lessons from one place (country or even region within a country) cannot be simply applied to solve problems in a different social, economic and cultural setting. What I like about Oxfam is its constant attempt to understand the underlying causes of poverty, whether at village level or global level, and to work on the structural causes of poverty, not just treat the symptoms. Oxfam does this in its practical programmes,
thinking not just about increasing farmers productivity, but looking at ways to change the economic or social barriers that stop the farmers from getting a fair return and a decent livelihood from their farming activities. This is often related to inequality and unjust control of economic and social opportunities. Many people criticize aid in terms of the danger of it increasing dependency, but that is not the case if intelligent aid seeks to change social and economic relations, reduce inequality and increase the rights of all people.
3. What do you think are the most important and efficient ways to manage an NGO such as Oxfam HK? NGOs need good management just like any small or medium sized business or government department. So attention to things like good employment practices and good financial monitoring, planning and governance are common to all types of organization. Where I think NGO management differs is in the culture of participation. NGOs generally pay a bit less than business or government sectors. But the benefit of working for an NGO is that you are addressing meaningful issues which motivate you, and you are not just a cog in a machine carrying out orders. The more participatory culture of NGOs means that all staff have a voice and the views of everyone on the important activities of the organization are listened to and respected. Most NGOs are still hierarchical in terms of management, but management must make the effort to engage and consult staff on the way the organization carries out its work. Participation and consultation can be more time-consuming than a top-down decision-making process, but even in the business sector, management has learnt that more engagement and sense of common ownership of the tasks you can create, the better the outcomes. 4. In your opinion, what are the prospects for a university graduate to work for an Asia-based NGO? NGOs and social enterprises are growing in Asia. East Asia is full of energy, optimism and innovation – not just in the economic sphere, but also in social and environmental sphere. In Hong Kong and other parts of the region, there is a real ‘can do’ attitude, and I think this spills over into the NGO sector. However, one of the core values of most NGOs is to localize wherever
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possible as they can get the double benefit of having colleagues who truly understand local ways of working, while also building local capacity in NGO management. So even if staff that they have trained move on to other organizations or form their own NGOs, there is a social benefit. Therefore, for a nonAsian to work for and NGO in Asia, they have to be able to contribute something quite special in terms of skills and experience.
to ensure the voice of all within the organization is heard and respected. Capacity to broker compromise and mix idealism with realism about how fast and by what means the world can be changed permanently for the better. Mixed with this should be an appetite for risk taking, innovation and radicalism that doesn’t put personal comfort or personal security ahead of personal beliefs.
1. How did you find adapting to the Chinese culture in your early years settling in HK? Modern Chinese culture is pragmatic and open to change, despite being old and complex. Chinese culture, for example, is not encumbered by heavy religious restrictions and hierarchies; or deeply entrenched biases, prejudices and superstitions.
A good start is to engage in community organizations and social action in your own community. That experience and skills picked up can contribute to groups in other countries, where you may start by volunteering or advising. If there are openings for jobs, the networks you develop through volunteer or advisory work will be very useful. Work in NGOs does not have to be full time. Oxfam receives a lot of help from people who also hold down better paying jobs in the private sector. 5. In your opinion, can you share some of the most vital attributes and attitudes that a development professional should have? Above all, those engaged in work on human development, the environment or rights issues need a keen social. An empathy with marginalized people – a feeling that all the world’s children are our collective responsibility, and an intolerance for injustice are also importance. Some talk of the motivation of love to help others. Empathy may be a kind of love, but outrage, or even anger at injustice, inequality and the unfair chances that some face when they are born on this earth – jut because of where they are born, their gender, their race or their class – is also a strong motivator for many in NGOs. In addition, a good sense of how organizations run, facilitating skills
6. As director-general, what are your visions of Oxfam HK? Our vision is to assist the development of a robust NGO sector in many of the fast-growing parts of the world, particularly China, so that they balance the rapacious business sector and the powerful governments, and lead to a truly mature, balanced and harmonious society. In addition, I hope Oxfam Hong Kong can become one of a new breed of international NGOs not based in western cities like New York, Geneva or London, which contribute new first-hand insights about the nature of rapid economic development in East Asia, and bring new cultural influences to global debates on human development and building of future societies.
HK people are amazingly conscientious and pragmatic. They work hard and play hard, they are adaptable and optimistic. They have a healthy irreverence for authority and privilege. I don’t feel I had to adapt much coming to live in Hong Kong. Within any culture there is great variety. Particularly in big cities, and you move into the social circles that fit your own values and likings. In this globalized, internet world, I think these social and cultural affinity groups can be stronger than national identities. 2. What would you say about the language barrier between locals and foreigners? It is a real challenge for foreigners to learn Chinese as adults, and even more so Cantonese, given the
tonal nature, the non-alphabetic writing system, and the fact that there are no common linguistic clues except for people from close by countries like Japan or Vietnam.
ronment for non-governmental organizations in terms of rule of law, transport and communications links and efficient systems and institutions.
Hong Kong people make much more effort to adjust to non-Chinese speakers than the other way round. This is to be appreciated and admired.
5. Which part of life in HK do you love the most?
3. What made you to settle to work in Hong Kong in particular over the other Asian cities? What is it that Hong Kong, as a city where you live and work in, attracts you the most? Most lives result from rationalized historical accidents. When I was young, I was interested in what China was saying about development: that they needed barefoot doctors to spread broad-based health care through the countryside, that university places should be awarded to those most likely to return to the poorer parts of the country where educated people were needed to help reduce poverty. This was the time of the Cultural Revolution and putting politics in command in China. Arriving in Hong Kong and talking to ordinary people with families in the mainland soon made it clear that the gap between the propaganda and the real lives of people in China was vast. Soon after I arrived in Hong Kong the Gang of Four were arrested and the government itself began to denounce the lies and false propaganda about the level of prosperity. An era of economic reform began. Productivity increased, and poverty reduced, but some useful social safety nets, provided for example by the communes, were lost in the first phase of market reform and the government is now having to rebuild these services to reduce widening inequality in China.
The good humour of Hong Kong people. Although the city can be slightly cold on the surface (people are not always friendly to perfect strangers) Hong Kong friends are some of the most consistent and loyal friends you could ever wish for. People are remarkably cheerful and polite, despite the fact that this is one of the most densely-populated places on earth. The strong work ethic (49 hour week average some studies show) is both a plus and a minus, but it keeps the energy levels up and keeps us all feeling young. The country parks: although HK is very small, the government has done a good job of maintaining huge country parks in the hilly areas of the territory. These are wellused and contribute to our collective physical and psychological well-being. More and more mainlanders travel to Hong Kong from the vast lands of China, to experience the country parks and hiking trails of the small area of Hong Kong. Many people I talk to overseas think Hong Kong is just an urban area, and are surprised to hear that Hong Kong has well-preserved natural areas, and many long country trails. Sources: • Oxfam HK website : http://www. oxfam.org.hk/en/john.aspx • Oxfam HK website (About Us) : http://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/abou-
By Benjamin Fung
The Asian Careers Society opens doors in Asia for our memebrs. Now you might think that as we are still at LSE, we can’t be sure of that yet. So don’t believe us just yet. We’ve interviewed some of our ex-committee members - let’s hear what they have to say about ACS and find out where they are now!
Nicole Wong (President)
I’m working at Latham & Watkins in HK right now as a first year trainee.
Maggie Lee (Secretary)
I have returned to Hong Kong after my graduation last summer (how I miss LSE!) and I am now doing the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) at the University of Hong Kong. PCLL with HKU has been quite tough and they have a crazy timetable for the 1st semester. Worse still, there are examinations after the holidays --- so there’s no Christmas for me this year, while those doing PCLL in City University and Chinese University of Hong Kong could enjoy their long Christmas break! I have to say I really enjoy meeting new people and am glad that many LSE course-mates are also doing PCLL in HKU though!
toxfam.aspx • Oxfam International website
I stayed in Hong Kong as I felt it was a good base in the Asian region. It is a large, dynamic city full of diversity with an enabling envi-
Where Are They Now? The 20102011 ACS Committee Revisited
(About Us): http://www.oxfam.org/ en/about
Having secured a 2013 training contract with Mayer Brown JSM, I hope to join the work force in September next year.
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Andrea Yip (Treasurer)
came to LSE and delivered presentations on campus. By attending these events on a regular basis, this has allowed me to make an informed decision about my career.
I think, what actually helps being in LSE and ACS, career-wise, is an exposure to their career-oriented culture. The constant exchange and bombardment of job-related information within the student community kept me well informed of market updates and conscious of the urgency in securing a job offer!
Wai Hang Louie (Management & Consultancy Event Officer)
I read law at LSE and I’m now doing my PCLL at CUHK. I have secured a training contract with a law firm, work starts next year.
Diana Chan (Law Event Officer)
I am Diana Chan, an alumnus of LSE and was the president of ACS in 2011-2012. Before being elected as the president I served the role as a law event officer in ACS. I am currently studying PCLL in Hong Kong and have been offered a training contract with one of the Magic Circle law firms, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. My active participation in the law events organised by ACS allowed me to get a broad overview of the job opportunities in the legal industry. By attending open house events and workshops, I learnt more about the culture of different law firms and the work they are involved with. This has greatly assisted me with my job application. Being a committee member of ACS has also given me ample chances to learn about different law firms at a personal level. I had the opportunity to work with human resources managers from different law firms directly on various occasions. As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, LSE has established abundant connections and networks with various employers, and it has the advantage of locating in central London. During my study at LSE, different law firms
I’m working in an international social enterprise called Dialogue in the Dark. To be honest, my story is pretty different. LSE’s culture made me think a lot about not working in the financial industry but instead, to make an impact and contribute something positive to the society’s aggregate welfare. So I chose to work in one of HK’s largest Social Enterprise - Dialogue in the Dark and hopefully with my experience in the PR industry and London Fashion Week, I can help them extend their reach to the mass public, and raise social awareness of the disadvantaged groups.
Aiden Lo (Alternative Careers Event Officer)
I am having a gap year at the moment, and will likely be going to India in January 2013. I will be going into Accountancy in Aug 2013 in the UK. Quote: “LSE and ACS career events definitely prepped me well for the job market, especially in finding out what I want to do and how to get there!”
Nicholas Loo (Accounting Event Officer)
Hi everyone! I am Nicholas Loo, and I am currently a Finance analyst at J.P Morgan in London. I was the Accounting Event officer for the ACS during 2010-2011, and have always believed that my involvements in ACS helped me to land my current role. Not only did I get to liaise with HRs from different industries, but the experiences of pitching for sponsorships, organising events and networking with leading individuals are all ways to
develop yourself in a multitude of ways. For those who are interested in becoming a part of this society, I sincerely urge you to, as this is a very unique and rewarding experience!
Harris Ho (Marketing Officer)
I am Harris Ho, a BSc Economics graduate and the ACS Marketing Officer 2010-2012. On the career side, in addition to all the career information and network that I’ve acquired being in the committee, the most precious skills I’ve learnt is the way to motivate others, and be motivated, at work. Chances of getting to know other like-minded individuals were a very rewarding bonus that I wouldn’t have expected before joining the ACS. Committee meetings were one of the most anticipated events during my term time at the LSE, and we still feel the special connections among us ACS-ers after we have graduated. It has virtually created a club where future lawyers and bankers can keep in touch with each other in the most casual manner. As I fell in love with law after doing the Commercial Law module (LL209) as my year 3 outside option choice, I have decided to pursue a career in law and am now doing a law conversion at the College of Law in London Moorgate. As a responsible committee, I attended quite a few of the law events organized by the ACS when law had not yet become my career aspiration. It’s surprising that these experiences turn out to be very useful to me at last!
LIFESTYLE Where Are You From? Good Times as a Gweilo By Anna Boumeester
“Where are you from?” It is an oftheard remark to fill awkward silences, reveal characters and forge friendships. Yet the seemingly simple and sedate question always stumps me. My parents are from the Netherlands, where I spent one year after birth, before we relocated to Hong Kong, followed by a move to Singapore and then on to Malaysia. I lived in South East Asia until I was eight, upon which it was declared that we were all going to London! Once in England I spent some years at a boarding school in Berkshire before choosing to stick around for my higher education. I now find myself in the international institution that is the London School of Economics, studying Anthropology & Law, and planning my next expedition. So where am I from? My nationality is Dutch, I spent my formative years in the Orient and a great deal of my tempestuous times in England. Yet despite the fact that I can recite Shakespeare with the best of them, be bothered by close quarters and love a good roast, I shall never be British. A ‘Third Culture Kid’, as determined by American sociologist Ruth Hill Useem, is one who has spent a significant part of his or her develop-
mental years abroad. Children that have accompanied their parents overseas often forge relationships to many cultures, while not acquiring full ownership in any. My Dutch relatives call me and my siblings “the English cousins” while my English compatriots think of me as a “Dutch girl”. Then there was my stint in Asia. Though scarcely any people tend to categorize me as Eastern since I carry few characteristics in terms of nationality or ethnicity. I do not have the calling card of conversation, colour, or cultural history. All I can offer is an education in Jay Chou’s greatest hits and a soft spot for Roti Chanai and Char Siu Bao. As a consequence one might say that I am situated among the landlines and labels. Certainly I stand between ‘citizen’ and ‘native’, dipping my toe into a society and developing opinions as to its philosophy before I move on. But this process has made me who I am today. According to Peter Spiro, an American lawyer and professor, “dual citizenship was once thought an offense against nature, an immoral status akin to bigamy”. Not long ago the concept of the ‘nation-state’ produced a powerful patriotism that brought beliefs of incompatible differentiation between sovereignties. To a degree this tradition continues. Nevertheless, today, extended tourism and expatriation is accepted and oft encouraged. The travels I took as a child, as well as the ‘where are you from?’ dilemma, has provided me with an appreciation for cultural awareness and the importance of custom. That is not to say some of my encounters did not end in tears. While in Malaysia,
one of my after-school activities was traditional dance class. My sister and I, neither slim nor agile, were the only two white children in the lesson. Often I would trip up the kid behind me as I stumbled in my sarong and on many occasions the other girls would pinch our boo-boo (chubby) cheeks in mirth. In any cross-cultural interaction there is an opportunity for confrontation or conflict. My family in Holland is often oblivious to foreigners’ hurt by their blunt characterizations and sharp remarks. Contrasts in convention, routine and ceremony can cause tension. Third Culture Kids must attempt to get to grips with these relationships. For me this developed into an interest in sociology and anthropology, culminating in my choice of university, as a multinational institution, and degree, on the philosophy of humanity. Particular interests in South East Asia, Media and Development were then fulfilled by regional and conceptual studies. Any Dim Sum cravings are now satisfied by excursions to Chinatown, punctuated by jaunts to the real deal. This summer I returned to the Orient and the places of my youth. It was a family trip, as well as a chance to see friends both old and new, but it was also an opportunity to analyze the area. For I want to return to Asia. I want to work in Asia. I want to live in Asia. The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, launched in 2010, has firmly established Asia as one of the more swift and secure growing areas globally. Job opportunities abound. Within the next two decades Asia is predicted to become the great-
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est economic region, as it’s social and financial influence increases. With policy easing and increasing investment growth, the IMF predicts growth of 8¼ for China in 2013 and we now see six of the Group of Twenty (G-20) economies originating from the Asia-Pacific area. It is this landscape that I want to situate myself in. Like a true Third Culture Kid I am interested in ‘Cross-Cultural Consultancy’. A cross-cultural consultant advises organizations on how to strengthen their communication skills. Common assignments include international advertising for global brands and the ‘etiquette’ for a foreign company acquisition. In addition it is possible to provide cultural training for individuals planning on living abroad. The Dutch Royal Tropical Institute offers classes for expatriate wives hostess skills. A recent Millward Brown study posited that cultural variations, though they could present pitfalls, provide chances to “enhance a brand’s message”. An example of this was found in the fact that within Switzerland national produce is particularly respected. McDonald’s universal ‘I’m lovin it’ was adapted in Swiss performances to highlight the fact that their fries are from Swiss potatoes. Cross-cultural consultancy is a fast developing area. As we move closer to Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” and physical distance becomes less of a social hindrance there is an employment niche for those interested in the interplay across cultures of macro-social forces, including the economic exertions. ‘Where are you from?’ has taken on a new dimension. This question opens up our understanding of the wider world; it illustrates the sheer variety of community, citizen and custom today. ‘Where are you from?’ forms a cultural narrative that strongly influences both our intimate relationships and employment opportunities.
In the future I hope to be involved in cross-cultural work in Asia, particularly in the South East. Previous experience has ignited a passion for the area while current events fuel the fire. Cultural dilemmas, such as the ‘where are you from?’ inquiry, has made me and many others question who they are and where they want to be. Discourse on globalization and international cooperation can benefit from an understanding of the Third Culture phenomenon. Military brats, businessmen’s children, civil service offspring, and missionary kids are all growing up with itchy feet. Today we want to take those feet on quite a walk-around. I hope that people continue to ask me where I am from; it makes me evaluate my past and propel me into the future. A future I hope that is in Asia, though I expect there to be some travelling of the vicinity involved! And finally dear readers, if ever stumped, remember that when the entrepreneur Brice Royer, with his Ethiopian mother, half Frenchhalf Vietnamese father and seven countries under the belt, is asked where he is from, he replies: “My mom says I’m from heaven”.
Why Study in One Country Only? By Sara Ghazie
Exchange programmes are quickly becoming a favourite when it comes to colouring someone’s CV or list of life accomplishments. Due to globalisation, employers are now more interested in hiring people who have experiences living in different countries and exploring other cultural backgrounds. Exchange programmes are definite-
ly a good way to start practicing for the working world, especially if you want to become an expatriate. Kids have been encouraged to participate in these programmes even before starting college or university. Many schools, especially secondary schools, organise exchanges with other reputable international societies for the sake of boosting their students’ extra-curricular activities. Japan, China, South Korea, Malaysia, you name it! If they can do it, why can’t we? Many Malaysians dream of studying overseas once they have graduated from secondary school. However, without scholarships, not all can afford it. With education becoming increasingly expensive, it is not always worth it to burden your parents or start a career full of debts (working will never be fun if this is the case). This is where exchange programmes come in. Local universities have created partnerships with foreign institutes to encourage globalisation, and also to make sure their students live outside their comfort zones. You do not need to only focus on the West; Asia offers a lot of these programmes too. It is certainly not easy to survive if you are not a multilingual but what is life without challenges, am I right? I have friends from Iran and the United Kingdom who have exchanged to the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China. Many people often worry about the language used during lectures when they first apply, but don’t fret, lectures are still in English. However, once you exit the campus, most means of socialising will be in Mandarin. This is where the adventure begins. If you are still worried about surviving and communicating, there are many local students that would love to help you. Initially, my friends could not speak the language but as time went by, they slowly learnt to adapt. Nasir, an Iranian, is in China now for a yearlong
programme to improve his Mandarin. He said most of the local students are very friendly and have helped him during his journey. Now, these exchange students can go shopping and order xiao long bao (dumplings) like locals! Not just China, there are also exchanges to South Korea. You even have the chance to go to the top three universities in the country, Seoul University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. Laura, 21, went to Korea University last year and said that it was one of her most memorable experiences and would not hesitate to go again. She said the reason why she did the exchange programme was to experience a different culture and communicate with the locals and other international students from different countries. As an avid K-pop fan, it would be a waste if she did not mingle with the locals and practice the language she has been learning from songs and dramas. Other than the three universities above, Ewha Womanâ€™s University and KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) are some other popular options for exchange programme destinations. From my own experience, exchange programmes have been a very wonderful part of my life. My first ever exchange programme was when I was 16. It was a homestay programme to Japan organised by a club appointed by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia. I first heard about this programme during my school assembly. The teachers announced that only 2 pupils are allowed to go for that year. After hearing about it, I wondered whether my parents would give me permission or not because it was a self-sponsored trip. Since I had nothing to lose, I went back home and asked my parents about it anyway. To my delight, they actually said yes without interrogating me too much. The next day, I found out that my very good friend
had also applied for this exchange. Since the both of us were the fastest to apply, we got it. This goes to show that if you are too afraid to ask, you wonâ€™t gain anything.
Nagoya and went straight to meet our foster families. I could see that everyone was tired from the way they dragged their luggage from the airport to the train station and
Before going on the actual programme, we had to stay overnight at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The club had prepared some activities for all of the participating students, such as basic Japanese classes and even body language classes. Since some of us might not know the language well enough, reading body language can be part of a survival skill in a foreign country. In my opinion, these activities were also organised to ensure we got to know one another and that these newfound friends would be there for you if you ever got homesick. During this little training, we selected two students to lead us all throughout the journey. Even though we were going to get separated when we met our foster family, I found that it was important to make all of us feel united. From that, I made many friends. Some were as young as thirteen years old and some came from as far as East Malaysia. The next day, we left for Japan. This is where the tiring, yet exciting journey began! We arrived in
then to the meeting venue. Everyone was quieter than usual too. However, as soon as we arrive, everyone got their spirits back. A lot of hugging and picture-taking could be seen in that big room. I was glad to find out that my foster mother could speak good English because my Japanese was not that good. My family lived in Shizuoka and it was a few hours away from where we initially gathered. That was the day I boarded the famous bullet train of Japan. A normal fourhour trip by car only took us less than two hours via the shinkansen. Upon reaching the house, I settled myself down and took out the gifts I prepared for each one of the family members. After giving them the gifts, I went to the kitchen to help my foster mother. She prepared a Japanese dinner and it was the first time I ate raw tuna. It was actually a good dinner, coming from someone who is not exactly a sashimi fan. From the next day onwards, I could truly feel that this was a cultural exchange programme. I visited the Sunpu Castle, drank
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authentic and freshly made green tea, saw actual wasabi leaves, and made Japanese dishes like tempura and onigiri (rice balls). I also learned how to make authentic green tea from my foster grandmother! Not just that, I even visited my foster sister’s junior high school. The school was definitely my best experience on the trip! I got to spend the entire day with the other students, even watching them play basketball. Unlike most schools in Malaysia, each school in Japan has their own uniform. A lot of students consider the best-looking uniform as one of the main deciding factor when choosing their future school. Without me realising it, the programme came close to an end. I bid farewell to my foster family, thanking them for giving me such a wonderful experience. This trip made me realise a lot of things. First of all, never be afraid to ask or try new things. You will never know what can happen. Secondly, the Japanese are such a friendly and kind-hearted nation. Many people helped me throughout this trip, and not just my foster family, even shop employees were patient when I was struggling with the language. Other than that, I experienced many firsts during this trip my first time travelling alone, being on a shinkansen, first time trying onigiri (which is now one of my favourite snacks), and even my first time in a Japanese school. I still keep in touch with the people I met on this trip. I sometimes talk to my foster mother through e-mail and am still friends with the other Malaysians who went on the trip. Now, I am on another exchange programme and this time, it is in the UK. The University of Nottingham has an inter-campus exchange programme between its three campuses in Malaysia, China, and of course, the UK. This is different from my earlier programme because my grades will be as-
sessed at the end of the trip. I have to take exams and submit assignments just like the other students here. However, university life is not all about the grades. Since I am older and more independent now, I can take advantage of this opportunity to travel around Britain. There are months when I travel every weekend and there are days when I explore each corner of Nottingham.
Learning Mandarin in the Middle Kingdom By Lipei Tao
With the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse, Mandarin has come to be one of the most widely used languages globally, and as such, Mandarin language resources have proliferated all over the world. Still, immersing yourself in the culture is unrivalled to any workbook or lecture found on the internet. Fortunately for the keen student, there are many exciting educational opportunities in the Middle Kingdom for speakers of all levels. The first place one can look towards is a private institution. The best thing about these institutions is that they provide courses that specialise in preparing students for the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK), the officially recognized proficiency test, or the Business Chinese Test (BCT). Moreover, they often offer flexible schedules combined with more opportunities for oneon-one sessions. However, the downside is that there is no guarantee of a high quality education by teachers with the right qualifications. To be safe, you can sign up in the well-established schools or
get some recommendations from your friends who have attended such schools themselves. The other option is enrolling in a language course offered by a university. Major universities around China – including the top schools Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan – offer a range of programmes ranging in length from summer school all the way up to yearlong courses. While these programmes do not specifically prepare students for proficiency exams, the courses cover a broad base of both language and Chinese culture. Attending a course by a well-known university is a safer bet as the course is taught by qualified staff with experience in teaching foreign students. Furthermore, graduation comes with a university certificate, which can be used as proof of your studies in China if you ever need one. Still, one of the best advantages of studying in a university is being able to stay in student accommodation. Living on campus will not only be cheaper and more convenient, but most importantly, the dorms are a great place to make new friends in a new country, and will provide great student life. For the LSE student, there is a summer exchange programme set up by the LSE Language Centre with Fudan University in Shanghai. The programme itself started as a new initiative in 2012 with the aim of facilitating an intensive schedule for those who wanted to progress quickly in their language development. The programme is specially tailored to fit LSE’s own Mandarin course and uses the same course literature. Currently, LSE students are able to apply for scholarships, such as the Fred Halliday Language Award, to help them finance their exchange studies and there are plans of extending more financial support for students in the future. Fifteen beginner students who had all studied Mandarin during
the LSE academic year went to Shanghai in the summer to study last year. “By the end of week 8 they had pretty much covered the entire intermediate level course. The course allowed the students to reach a level which would have otherwise taken them a year,” says Dr. Catherine Hua Xiang, the Mandarin Language Coordinator. This year, in its second year of running, advanced level students will be able to attend the programme as well, with a focus on learning about China through attending native university lectures. The exchange programme also offers some planned social activities and trips where you have an opportunity to meet other students. Indeed, the activity that Dr. Xiang found to be the most memorable was a trip to Suzhou that the students arranged themselves without any additional support: “I think they found that experience rewarding. It made them understand that they could communicate well in Chinese.”
When West Meets East: The Delicious Days of an Irish Teacher in Japan
ten reluctant to take chances with their English but are always respectful and definitely warm up to you after a while. The senior high school I work in has been great in making me feel at home and my colleagues have really helped me to get used to life in Japan. Overall, this has been a great experience! 2. What are the differences, from a cultural perspective, between working in Ireland and in Japan? I have found the work-culture in Japan to be pretty hard to get used to. People are expected to put in lots of face-time in the office (or staff-room) even if there is very little work to be done on any given day. Most of the teachers in my school arrive before 8am and often don’t leave until 8pm. There also seems to be a bigger split between people’s professional lives and their private lives with people rarely discussing their own affairs when in work. Then there are countless social rules and etiquette that one should abide by when working; everything from whose job it is to boil the kettle in the morning (the young women) to how to take your leave of your colleagues at the end of a day’s work “please excuse me for being so rude as to leave early” is decided and it is up to you to figure out how things work most of the time.
That being said, there is also a really fun side to people that comes out during work drinking parties or other less formal work events. I also get the feeling that the people who work together really do support each other in tough times. An important point too, is that as a foreigner, you are given a lot of leeway in many areas. 3, How is the job market in Japan for foreigners? I feel that the job market, in general, is tough for foreigners. Visa restrictions mean that jobs can’t really just be picked up. In addition, Japan’s economy is in a pretty prolonged period (more than ten years?) of low growth. However, certain fields such as engineering or computer programming are pretty stable and there are always companies looking for people with the right skills. In terms of English teaching, there are far fewer jobs than in the past, salaries are falling and the competition for what is there is pretty intense!
1. Do you feel your life is drastically different than your family or friends in Ireland? No, I wouldn’t. These days, many of my friends live or have lived abroad. The economy in Ireland means that it is now again not so
By Giang Nguyen
An Interview with Thomas McComack
1. Did you like teaching English in Japan? Teaching English in Japan has been fun. The students are shy and of-
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unusual for people to work abroad. I feel the details of my life, the little things may be different, but overall life is pretty similar. 2. Tell me some of your favourite differences in culture between Japan and Ireland? I really enjoy the various festivals that are scattered throughout the year here. In spring, for two weeks or so, there are the cherry blossom festivals where people sit under the blooming trees and drink together. In summer, there are firework displays and people dress in traditional costumes. In autumn, there are leaf-viewing parties and... You get the idea. There is a much bigger awareness of the seasons here. I also like the fact that in Japan, a lot of emphasis is placed on appearance. People tend to dress well and stylishly. Food is always well-presented. The streets are clean and pretty. In addition, I think I have learnt to love the gap between work and play in Japan. When people work, they work and when they have free time, they seem to know how to enjoy it! 3. Some say that Tokyo and several other big cities in Japan have the best nightlife in the world. What do you think and do you have any recommendations for nightlife hotspots from your own experience? Hmmm. That’s a tough question. I would say that, overall, the nightlife in Japan is not as accepted as in some parts of Europe (Spain or Germany for instance). Public transport stops between midnight and 5am. Clubs are facing growing restrictions on their licensing hours. Entry prices can be very expensive and good bars can be lost in the mazes of streets dedicated to hostess clubs. Also many Japanese people are not as naturally
out going as folks in some parts of the world. Nevertheless, there is all night karaoke, love hotels or capsule hotels if you want to lay down, all-youcan-drink deals in most establishments, themed bars and restaurants (I went from a jail-themed bar to a country and western bar in one night) and just walking around the centre of Tokyo or Osaka on a Friday night provides some of the best people-watching I have ever seen.
5. Would you say that Japan is a safe place?
I would recommend going to the Ameri-Mura area in Osaka and just wandering around on a Friday night: you never know what you will see!
Japan is not really a country set up for people to immigrate to, say, America, Canada or Australia. Visas are given for one-year or five-year periods dependent on a business sponsoring you. In order for somewhere to do so, they must prove that there is not a Japanese person who can do the same job as you. There are various categories of visas for different skills. I am currently working as an ‘instructor’: a visa provided to people working as teachers in public institutions.
4. I heard that there are public baths (a place where locals could go and wash themselves, soak in a tub and socialize with neighbours). Have you tried that? What was your experience? Yes, I have tried the public baths here. Of course, at first, it is a little strange to be surrounded by large numbers of naked Japanese men but after a while you get used to it. They are incredibly relaxing places to spend an afternoon; the water with its special minerals makes you feel great afterwards. In winter, I tend to go a couple of times a month.
I think Japan is a very safe place: have never really had any problems. Perhaps in bigger cities some care is needed late at night in the nightlife areas but compared to many places in the world Japan is relatively crime-free.
1. How does the Japanese visa process work? I heard that Japan has a pretty tough immigration policy.
2. Do you know if the Japanese visa process has changed over the last few years? Recently, there have been some minor changes to visa regulations. For more information, look at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (http://www.mofa.go.jp).
3. Are there any books, websites or other resources you would suggest for people considering moving to Japan? I am working as part of the JET Programme, a Japanese government programme which invites people to come to help promote grass-roots internationalization. Their website is: http://www.jetprogramme.org/. If you are interested in teaching English in Japan and don’t know where to start, Dave’s ESL Café has a useful forum on teaching in Japan: http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewforum. php?f=11&sid=2d7506959a26b5d77aa588f5c997aed1
Life in Shanghai By Lipei Tao
By glancing at the early 20th century European architecture along the Bund, it is clear that Shanghai has long been China’s gateway to the outside world. Boasting a GDP of over $307.3 billion, Shanghai is China’s richest city. As the Chinese government puts more capital liberalisation in motion, Shanghai is looking to become a global hotspot for finance and business, increasing future career prospects in the city. But other than future career opportunities, what else does this dynamic and growing city have to offer?
The local darling dish is xiaolongbao, a small steamed dumpling holding minced pork in a distinctive soup. It is available almost anywhere in the city and a cage will cost around 6-20RMB. For the fried version of the dish, try Yang’s shengjianbao. There is usually a line winding out of the restaurant entrance, however, the pan-fried
pork dumplings sprinkled with sesame seeds, costing 6RMB for four, is well worth the wait. But most importantly, a word of warning should be given to the novice dumpling eater. The correct way to eat the dish is to first bite a small hole in the wrapper and then slurp the soup out of the hole. Taking a large first bite will cause hot scalding soup to spray everywhere in addition to causing you huge embarrassment in front of the locals. Trust me, I learnt the hard way so you don’t have to suffer the same traumatic experience. In London, if you need to quickly satisfy your hunger, your usual options are something like a sandwich from Pret or a McDonalds burger. In Shanghai, street food is the real fast food. Food carts on the roadside offer a plethora of options; fried noodles, fried rice, shish kebabs, stinky tofu and pancake wraps are just a small selection that can be made on the spot, all for under 10RMB. My own personal favourite is roujiamo, pitta bread stuffed with pork, stewed with a delicious mix of spices and seasoning. Though, as in all of China, caution should be exercised when eating food from unfamiliar places. It seems like food poisoning always strikes at the most inconvenient times in the most troublesome places.
The customary after-work activity in London is grabbing a beer at a pub with your co-workers. In China, the reward after a long day’s work is singing your heart out with your peers and friends at a KTV: rooms with a karaoke machine, microphones, and alcohol that are rented out on an hourly basis. Don’t worry if your Chinese isn’t good enough to sing your favourite C-pop song, the larger chains such as Shanghai GeCheng or HaoDeLi will carry most mainstream English songs as well as a large selection of K-pop and J-pop. The other crowds you find in KTVs will most likely be high school/university students and guys singing ballads to impress their dates. Moreover, as Shanghai is one of Asia’s most international and modern urban cities, it has a flourishing nightlife that is able to accommodate a wide range of preferences. For a relaxing evening, enjoy a drink and a nightly live jazz performance at JZ Club or have a glass of wine on the Kartel rooftop terrace overlooking the Former French Concession. As a rule of thumb, always call ahead of time to reserve a table. For the night-clubbers, you will be happy to hear that most venues in Shanghai do not have cover fees. Chinese-style clubbing can be found at places such as No.88, Phebe and Richbaby. The only thing I can say of Chinese clubs is that they are an experience found nowhere else. The general account of a night at one of these clubs is characterized by randomness, craziness (of the fun kind) and allround shenanigans. At the pricier Chinese nightclubs, such as the Muse clubs, one can witness the cultural phenomenon of the fu er dai (literal translation: wealthy second generation). They are a new generation of young Chinese who are able to enjoy a lav-
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ish lifestyle because of the wealth their families own. Indeed, seeing Lamborghinis parked outside these clubs is a common sight. Following the rise of this new gilded lifestyle, the fu er dai have become public symbols of the ostentatiousness enjoyed by the newly created upper class. Upper-scale clubs, such as M1NT, mainly serve the population of well-off expats. They follow strict dress codes and have exclusive guest lists. Sometimes it is alright to just call ahead to be put on the guest list, but otherwise, you must either be a member or know a member. The menu is very expensive and membership is costly. However, for the price, you get a tasteful venue overlooking the Shanghai skyline and a 17 meter long shark tank.
The Sartorial Arts
For those looking to dress sharply, Shanghai offers high quality tailoring services. There are great benefits to getting tailoring done on your professional wardrobe. Whether to make a strong impression in an interview or to develop client relationships, being able to present a professional image is immensely important in business. Hence, having tailoring done on your suit is extremely valuable as the suit is the primary part of your professional image. Tailors in Shanghai are not only skilled and accessible, but they also remain affordable at the same time. The South Bund Fabric Market is where bargains can be found. The mazes of stalls sell everything from suits and shirts to traditional Chinese qipao dresses. As with most markets in China, the shops practice the true art of haggling and all prices are negotiable. A two-piece suit will cost anything from 250500RMB and a shirt 90-150RMB – all depending on your own bartering talents. The caveat of cheaper prices and made-to-match designs
is that the quality of the final product is like a game of Russian roulette; know exactly what you want, from cuffs to shoulder-padding to fit, in order to avoid disappointment. The British, French and American settlers who came to Shanghai during the late 19th century liked to dress dandy and brought with them a strong sartorial tradition. Later, for this reason, the best tailors in China were trained in the tailoring schools established in Shanghai. Shanghai’s Savile Row lies on Maoming Road and it is the haven for bespoke clothing. Here, suits will cost anything from 300010000RMB depending on the shop. The benefit of paying higher prices compared to the Fabric Market is the guarantee of a knowledgeable staff, better service, better cuts and superior materials. The most renowned tailors are W.W. Chan’s & Sons and Dave’s on Wuyuan Road, both shops have long histories and are founded by students of the old Shanghainese tailoring schools.
All in all, Shanghai is a city combining the best of China and the West. In addition, it offers something for everyone with its large diversity of great food, fun and shopping. For all the things not covered in this article, arm yourself with http://www. SmartShanghai.com, a site that aggregates almost all of Shanghai’s events, food, nightlife, and activities in one place.
Rise of K-Pop By Janet Chan
K-pop, short for Korean pop, is part of the phenomenon called the Korean Wave or ‘Hallyu Wave’, terms given to the increasing spread in popularity for South Korean entertainment and culture, covering anything from gastronomy to fashion. K-pop is a musical genre en-
compassing many styles of music, including electropop, rock and hiphop. Previously unknown to those outside South Korea, social media has provided a platform for K-pop to branch out – first to Asia in the noughties, and globally in more recent years. With attractive visuals and memorable songs, it is not surprising that K-pop artists have had such an overwhelming influence in Asia. Groups and solo artists are called ‘idols’, and their fan bases are fervent, to say the least. The ‘Big Three’ management companies, SM, YG and JYP, are pioneers in the K-pop idol formula – appealing aesthetics, charisma, and talent in singing or dancing, or both. The staggering popularity has led to the creation of many other entertainment companies who have joined the bandwagon – in the early noughties, an average of seven groups debuted in one year, in 2012, no less than 80 groups have done so. In a given year, idols are likely to produce an album or two and a number of EPs, and appear on music programmes and other TV shows to promote their songs. Furthermore, concerts are given a couple of times a year and most of them are sold-out. A popular idol may also be cast in roles in television dramas and films. Idols are expected to interact with fans at events such as fan-signings, freehugs and guerrilla concerts. This can often be too much for idols and some have been sent to hospital due to overwork and exhaustion! It is well known that if idols are to be popular, this is the price that has to be paid. However, no hard work goes unrewarded (for the lucky ones who have established popularity). Popular idols such as TVXQ and Girls’ Generation have made millions for their management and for themselves, and members are often seen to be investing their money wisely. An idol’s popularity is not to be un-
derestimated. This can be demonstrated by occurrences in airports. Whenever it is known that so-andso will be arriving at or departing from an airport, legions of loyal fans will camp out there in order to see a glimpse of their beloved idol, which leads to airports anywhere from London to Hong Kong being ground to a standstill. Fans also show their undying support by donating ‘fan rice’ to their favourite idols who in turn donate to a charitable cause. On the other side of the spectrum, there are ‘sasaeng’ (private) fans who exhibit obsessive behaviours such as stalking and invading their idol’s privacy. These range from fans who book taxis for a day to follow their idols around, to the more extreme ones who install CCTV surveillance cameras near idol’s homes, and GPS trackers in their cars. K-pop’s popularity is not confined to Asia, however, since as of late, it has exerted influence in seemingly unlikely places around the world. Various idols have held sold-out concerts in Latin America and Australasia. In Europe, artists performed in London, Berlin, and Paris where ‘SM Town Live in Paris’ sold out within 15 minutes in 2011. Big Bang, an idol group who have previously won the Best Worldwide Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards against the likes of Britney Spears, Gotye and Lena, also held a concert in London’s Wembley Arena at the end of 2012. A fan who attended the concert said: “It was great and it’s amazing how big their fan base is, even in the UK and you could tell that they were very surprised and touched too. When you can feel so much energy it doesn’t matter that you don’t understand the lyrics.” For the ultimate example of K-pop’s popularity, look no further than Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’, the MV of which went viral in a matter of days and has now even surpassed Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ as the most
watched video on YouTube, as well as most liked video. Topping music charts around the world, he also recently collaborated with MC Hammer at the American Music Awards 2012, and is also on the shortlist for TIME’s Person of the Year. Not bad for a few months work. K-pop idols have also influenced the sales of Korean products, including electronics, cosmetics and fashion. Companies in South Korea often contract idols to endorse their products to the public. Samsung has recently enlisted idols including 2PM, Miss A and Sistar to promote their mobile phone Samsung Galaxy SIII. In terms of cosmetics and skincare products, idols are key in boosting sales. Their good looks attract both men and women who purchase products in the hope that they too will look as appealing. No doubt you have also heard of the BB cream, originating from South Korea, which has benefited from idols’ promotion to become the new ‘it’ product. Clothing lines wasted no time in recruiting
idols’ help either, with girl group 2NE1 featuring in the Adidas Originals campaign, ‘CF’, alongside Nicki Minaj and Jeremy Scott. Since its humble beginnings in the 90s, K-pop has reached astonishing popularity worldwide. With Psy making a true breakthrough in the West, it should not be long until an idol also makes significant ground here. Tourism in South Korea is already reaping the benefits of K-pop, as many tourists visit in order to feel closer to their idols and to buy their endorsed products. As for the rest of Asia, K-pop is dominating the music industry and it looks like it is here to stay.
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Food Trailing Across Borders By Leo Wan Yu
“Make sure you have your weight measured before you leave your country.” This is what my friends and I always say jokingly to friends who plan to visit Malaysia because sooner or later they will find themselves on an endless food-hunting journey. When people think of Malaysia, most of them will start to picture the soaring Petronas Twin Towers, white sandy beaches, scuba diving in one of the richest waters in the world, and attractions that show cultural elements of Malay, Chinese and Indian, which are the three largest ethnic groups in the country. In fact, Malaysia has even more to offer than that! Here, because of its unique characteristic of being a melting-pot of races and religions, where Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other ethnic groups live together in harmony, the multiculturalism has made the country a gastronomical paradise. Start with Nyonya (Chinese-Malay) dishes, move on to Malay kuihs (bite-sized snacks), Indian curries, Chinese dim sum and even international cuisine; Malaysia has got what you want. One word to describe Malaysian foods – savoury! Of all the dishes, the most significant dish is nasi lemak – the national dish that one should not miss while in Malaysia! Nasi lemak is a Malay cuisine, and literally means ‘fatty rice’, but in this context means ‘creamy’ or ‘rich’. It is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, both commonly found in Malaysia. Nasi lemak comes in many varieties depending on the chef’s own recipe.
However, nasi lemak is generally served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), roasted peanuts, hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices, and the spicy sauce you find everywhere in Malaysia – sambal. Sambal is said to be the most important part in nasi lemak - the tastiness of it could make the dish the most perfect dish in the world or simply ruin it. Sometimes nasi lemak is served with fried fish or chicken. Nasi lemak with rendang – meat stewed for hours in coconut milk and spices until the liquid has evaporated – is common too. Over time, many varieties of nasi lemak have been developed. Now, nasi lemak lovers can find the dish served with sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chilli) or acar (pickled vegetables) etc. Imagine the fragrant rice flavoured with pandan leaf, spicy sambal, crispy anchovies and the authentic aroma, it’s no wonder nasi lemak always tops the list of best food in Malaysia. All in all, Malaysians like spicy foods – they utilise spices and herbs whenever they can.
the temperatures can soar above 30°C. It is sold everywhere, at either hawker stalls or restaurants. It is not surprising to spot locals enjoying cooling cendol on the roadsides! Malacca State is said to have the best cendol in Malaysia, but locals hold different opinions… Malaysian Mamak (Malay-Indian) culture represents another side of Malaysian culinary culture. Food served at mamak stalls include roti canai (Indian-influenced flatbread), mee goreng (fried noodles), satay (grilled meat), and the ever-popular drink – teh tarik (pulled tea). Locals like to spend time chatting or watching ‘live’ telecasts of major sports events with friends at the stalls to while the night away. The culture has gradually integrated into the locals’ life. The mamak culture experience is unique, and all one needs is teh-tarik and good friends to hang out with. The night is always young with mamak stalls in the city.
Chilli crab with mantou, Jumbo Seafood Restaurant (from http://thecrazyfood.blogspot.com)
If you are not a fan of spicy foods, don’t worry, there’s still something for you. Cendol is a traditional dessert made from shaved ice, coconut milk, palm sugar and noodle-like jelly made from rice flour with pandan flavouring. A rich and creamy cold cendol is a blessing on a hot afternoon, especially when
While across the border, the fast-developing island, Singapore, offers good varieties of eatery too. Some of the Singaporean cuisine originates from Malaysia but it has gradually developed its own distinct characteristics. Singapore is a multicultural country, and being a financial hub, gathers talents from
all over the world; the island does not only offer local cuisines but
Have a teh-tarik moment at the mamak stalls - chef is ‘pulling’ tea.
also a wide range of international cuisines and styles – Japanese, Portuguese, French, Thai, you name it. It is never a problem for foreigners to have a taste of their hometown specialties or venture further afield to satisfy their food cravings in this internationalised community. Of course, Singapore has its own list of best foods (die-die must-try) in town but on top of all, almost all Singaporeans would suggest chilli crab. Chilli crab is a well-known Singaporean seafood dish. Crabs are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet, flavourful tomato and chilli based sauce, hence the name. But fear not, chilli crab is not a spicy dish despite its name. One of the best ways to taste chilli crabs is with mantou (Chinese buns). The plain bread definitely brings out the sweet and savoury taste of the sauce. The moment you put the
crabmeat and sauce-dipped bun in your mouth, the aroma will fill your nostrils and then your whole mouth. Perfecto if you are sitting by the window in one of the restaurants along Singapore River, overlooking the blazing lights and amazing night view of the city! However, you are wrong if you think chilli crab is good enough to be crowned Singapore’s national dish. The national dish, chicken rice, is the proud owner of this title. It is available everywhere, from hawker stalls, food courts, restaurants, and even 5-star hotels. It is a dish of fluffy white fragrant rice and poached chicken prepared with ginger and garlic, usually served with dips such as chilli sauce and dark soy sauce, pounded ginger, and sliced cucumber. The chicken could be steamed or roasted. The dish is undoubtedly a must-try dish when you visit Singapore. The list hasn’t come to an end yet. Enjoy a whole new dining experience while experiencing a 360° panoramic view 165m above the ground in Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest observation wheel. Take a walk to Chinatown and find yourself tasting delicious (and sometimes weird) foods on the street. There’re a lot more for you to discover on this little red dot. As neighbours, Malaysia and Singapore are separated by only a bridge, however they are pretty distinctive. Nevertheless, no matter what style of cuisine you desire, you will find your paradise here somewhere. By the way, guess what happened to one of my friends who enjoyed his stay in Malaysia a little too much? He had to buy new pants during his stay after satisfying all his food cravings – the pants he brought from his home country no longer fit!
Chilli crab with mantou, Jumbo Seafood Restaurant (from http://thecrazyfood.blogspot.com)
In Search of Food: Hidden Places in Hong Kong By Tang Valerie Wai Yee
Known as ‘Food Paradise’, Hong Kong has always been famous for her wide variety of food, and there is no doubt that part of the fun is exploring. Recent times have seen the expansion of food chains in Hong Kong, which are gradually dominating and homogenizing the culinary markets; for example, the corporation of Maxim and Fairwood. However, if one looks hard enough, one may spot the hidden gems; these restaurants often provide a unique dining experience, and chances are, they may be the new secret hideout place that you have been looking for. Hidden on the 15th floor of an inconspicuous building in Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hit the Road is a cosy and artistic café that provides a small day-to-day menu for its customers. Furnished with sofas, bookshelves, paintings and antique decorations, the whole café emanates a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere – perfect for a nice afternoon tea while you casually flip through your favourite read. With its ivory walls, complemented by black rims and outlines, the café looks almost as if it has emerged from a child’s painting, giving the place an ineffable feeling of happiness. The café itself is rather small, perhaps because of its secluded location, but this is just all the better for people looking for a quiet place to take some time off the stressful and fast-paced life of Hong Kong. Perhaps the most well known dish
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at Hit the Road is its honey-grilled chicken. The dish comes in many variations, but one of the best is Spaghetti with Honey-Grilled Chicken in Homemade Pesto. As you slowly bite through the chicken, the rosemary and the honey flavour are the first things to hit your palate. The grilling process caramelises the honey-coated chicken skin, forming a sweet and crispy layer of on the surface. The aromatic scent of the rosemary, which has been sprinkled on top of the chicken, also becomes more pronounced after the grilling and complements the chicken perfectly. Then it gets even better: the chicken is amazingly tender and succulent, clearly they use fresh chicken instead of frozen. On the other hand, the spaghetti is cooked al dente, and the rich but not too heavy homemade pesto sauce brings the dish to another level.
After a satisfying main course, how can one skip dessert? (Personally, that is the main point really). All the desserts at Hit the Road are excellent, but the lemon meringue tart really stands out. The café strikes the perfect balance with this dessert: the light, fluffy meringue and a crunchy tart base balances out the acidity of the lemon filing, making this dessert one to die for. The unique arrangement of the meringue – small individual perks topped with a mint leaf – scores for this dessert presentation-wise as well, giving a well-rounded culinary experience. For those dessert fanatics, one dessert definitely cannot satisfy your sweet tooth! So, anyone up for some Japanese pudding? Wa-
sakuraya, a Japanese pudding shop in Happy Valley, is established by a Japanese chef who is dedicated to bringing genuine Japanese cuisine to Hong Kong. Wasakuraya insists on importing ingredients from Japan for their pudding in order to ensure the best quality, such as the Hokkaido 3.6 milk and Wasabon sugar. The signature pudding at Wasakuraya is the Premium Custard Pudding topped with wagashi, which is a traditional Japanese confectionery. It literally melts in your mouth: one can taste the rich flavour of eggs, milk and vanilla seeds all at the same time. It is not the kind of dessert that is too sweet and makes people want to stop after a few spoonfuls, but rather makes you long for more; you could definitely continue for three whole puddings without getting tired of it at all (which was what I did)! And if you happen to be into nice kitchenware, an additional fringe benefit is that you can take away the beautiful Japanese ceramic cup.
The other custard puddings at Wasakuraya are equally delectable. These, compared to the premium one, are less creamy and come in various flavours, which can really be a headache for one to choose from. As recommended by the
staff, the original custard pudding and the black bean custard pudding are extremely popular, and the reason why is apparent – the former glides smoothly into one’s mouth and gives off a subtle aroma; while the latter has a hint of bitterness, which neutralizes the sweetness without overpowering the natural flavours of the ingredients. These puddings also come with a selection of syrups, such as maple syrup, caramel and green tea syrup, which transforms the taste of the puddings considerably, generating even more variations.
These two places are just a tiny representation of the hidden gems one can find in Hong Kong. There are still numerous places yet to be discovered, and it is up to you
whether you want to enrich your culinary experience or not. Hong Kong is indeed a place filled with endless possibilities, and it is impossible not to love this city for its cosmopolitan setting.
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What does the fast-growing Asian economy have to offer? You can find all your answers here! Discover exciting career prospects and lifestyle...
Published on Mar 4, 2013
What does the fast-growing Asian economy have to offer? You can find all your answers here! Discover exciting career prospects and lifestyle...