Volume 02 Issue 24
Dear Fellow Rotarians,
We had an unusual auction last week. Throughout the initial fellowship, Rtn Howard was forlornly wandering around asking if anyone had picked up his name badge, which he had carelessly left in Macau after the Joint Meeting. He even went so far as to suggest that SAA Frank should fine him (which just goes to show how the loss was addling his brain!). Then came the auction – of Rtn Howard’s badge (which was found on the floor in Macau, after his departure). SAA Frank started the bidding at HK$5 and it quickly rose to HK$100 offered by VP Nic. As the bidding closed, Rtn Howard was offered the opportunity to match the highest bid for the safe return of his name badge and did so, bringing him a renewed sense of identity and contributions to the box to HK$579.50.
Although we had no guests last week, we were joined by visiting Rotarian PP Harry Keema from our mother club, the RC of Kowloon. PP Hari has been a Rotarian for 40 years during which he has achieved an astonishing 100% attendance. He had brought with him, his Club Bulletin from which PP MS Kalra read excerpts to us.
VP Nic reported that Yantu reached terra firma on 3rd December – much to Christian & Sun Haibin’s relief. He had sent a message of congratulations to them on behalf of the Club and will be asking them both to join us at a meeting early next year, to tell us all about their experience.
PP MS Kalra reads from PP Hari’s Club Bulletin, to the enjoyment of President Ramesh
President Ramesh also reported briefly to us on the Intercity Meeting which was held on 3rd December to welcome RI President Rick King and at which our newest Rotarian – Tommy Tam – was inducted. For those of you who could not make it, I’m sorry, as it was a good evening. Having read that President Rick is an accomplished orator, I can now testify to that. He is also a very good singer and was inclined to exuberantly burst into song as he wandered the room.
Lastly, don’t forget that the luncheon meeting of 21st December has been cancelled in favour of a Christmas Dinner evening meeting and fellowship starting at 7.30 pm on Thursday 20th December. The venue will be the same and spouses and partners are welcome.
Till next week …
Yours in Rotary,
Last Week (7th December) Mr Terry Hart of MLI Limited (a firm specialising in advising expatriates on their life and investment planning needs) was with us to give us an introduction to Money Laundering – or rather, the avoidance of it. Whilst anti-money laundering regulations have been in place in most countries for some years now, in the wake of the events of 9th September there has been a worldwide call for a rapid and coordinated effort to detect and prevent the misuse of the world’s financial systems by terrorists and criminals.
This is not an easy task since money laundering is not a single act, but rather a process which starts with the “placement” – breaking funds into smaller amounts and depositing or purchasing financial investments, or jewellery, cars and art, etc. The next step is “lavering”, or movement of the assets. Casinos often figure prominently at this stage of the process. Finally comes “integration” when the funds reenter the system legitimately.
Mr Terry Hart receiving the club banner from Pres. Ramesh
The common factors in the above process are the money launderer’s need to conceal the origin and true ownership of the funds, the need to maintain control of them and the need to change the form of these funds by volume.
FATF (The Financial Action Task Force) was established by the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989 and numbers 29 countries and jurisdictions as it’s members. One of its first tasks was to develop 40 Recommendations which set out measures for Governments to follow for effective anti-money laundering programmes.
By it’s very nature, the size of the problem is difficult to quantify, but the IMF has suggested that it could be 2 – 5% if the world’s GDP. Using 1996 statistics, that would be between US$290 billion – US$1.5 trillion! Indeed, the UK Insurance Industry calculates that this crime costs £85 billion per year and that 70% of it is drug related. To this end, the penalty for this crime in the UK is a maximum of 14 years in prison with no remission.
Terry went on to outline for us the risks to society from money laundering such as the risk to the soundness of banking institutions, the contamination of legal financial transactions and the increased volatility of international capital flows and exchange rates.
Having expanded its mission beyond criminal money laundering to combating terrorist financing. FATF is revising its 40 Recommendations and, amongst other things, much stricter disclosure requirements will be introduced. Already British Customs have arrested 8 people in a US$150 million heroin trafficking ring who were processing proceeds through “Hawalas” (underground finance networks which are now targetted by the new regulations).
But the scale of the problem is quite daunting; at least one bank did flag up the transfer of US$100,000 (the previous limit for flagging was US$10,000) into, what turned out to be the account of one of the hijackers, but no action was taken. In its defence, the US Government estimates that the total amount spent on the hijacking was only approximately US$500,000. Out of an estimated US$1.5 billion per day in transfers, that is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
This Week (14th December) Mr Damdinjamts Turbileg from the Consulate of Mongolia joins us to tell us of his home country.
Thursday 20th December: Katherine Ma, The House of Energy – Psychic Reading
Friday 28th December: Annual General Meeting – Election of Officers for Rotary year 2002/3
Don’t forget, VP Nic is planning your programme for speakers for next year and he would welcome any names and addresses of speakers for January and early February.
Friday 14th December: Joseph Lee & Frank Kleinteich
Thursday 20th December: David Lindsay & Patrick Shum
Friday 28th December: Raj Mirpuri & Nic Robinson
NEWS – NEWS – NEWS
The Camp Quality Christmas Party at the Karting Mall on Sunday 9th December, was a huge success. 120 children attended along with their companions. Those of us from the Club were: President Ramesh & First Lady Regina with their children, IPP Bill, VP Nic, PP Bruce and his wife Anne, Rtn May, Rtn Tommy and his wife Betty, and Rtn Nicole. VP Nic – as a last minute stand-in – made a wonderful Santa Claus (even if he did need extra padding around the middle) and those of us who took a spin in the karts had a lot of fun trying to beat a highly competitive IPP Bill.
I want to remind you all that I am always on the lookout for any gossip (fun gossip only, of course) or announcements you want to make to your fellow Rotarians. If you have anything you want to be included under this section, please either e-mail me at email@example.com or see me at the regular luncheon meeting.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK
15th December: IPP Bill celebrates his birthday on Saturday 15th December, which is also the birthdates of Nero Claudius Augustus Germanicus (37 AD) 5th emperor of Rome from 54-68 AD; oil magnate J. Paul Getty (1892); and Irish authoress Edna O’Brien (1932) (whose brother was my parish priest when I was a child!)
J. Paul Getty – “Formula for success: Rise early, work hard, strike oil.”
On this day in history ….
1612 – Simon Marius is the 1st to observe the Andromeda galaxy through a telescope.
1791 – In the US, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, went into effect following ratification by the state of Virginia.
1890 – American Hunkpapa-Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, South Dakota during an incident with Indian police who were working for the Government.
1944 – A single-engine plane carrying US Army Major Glenn Miller disappeared in thick fog over the English Channel while en route to Paris. The true fate of the plane and its passengers has never been determined.
1973 – J. Paul Getty III was found in southern Italy after being held captive for five months, during which his right ear was cut off and sent to a newspaper in Rome.
1973 – Sandy Hawley became the 1st jockey to win 500 races in 1 year.
Thought for the Day:
” If reality wants to get in touch with me, it knows where I am.”
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Saturday 5th January: The Annual District Mahjong Championships will be held at the World Trade Centre Club at 38/F, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay. The event starts with a 12.00 pm buffet lunch with the competition starting at 1.30 pm. The fee is HK$500 which includes lunch and dinner. For further details, contact Mr. Frederick Ng on 90427077 or Tony Hui on 94610814.
Sunday 13th January: The District Sports Day will be held at the Wanchai Sports Ground from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Saturday 23rd February: Rotary World Understanding and Peace Day.
Saturday 16th March: District Conference to be held at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel.
FROM THE BREADBASKET
A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY
(by Robert Peterson)
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. “Hello,” she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.
“I’m building,” she said.
“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not really caring.
“Oh, I don’t know, I just like the feel of sand.”
That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes.
A sandpiper glided by. “That’s a joy,” the child said.
“It’s a what?” I asked.
“It’s a joy, my mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.”
The bird went gliding down the beach. “Good-bye joy,” I muttered to myself, “hello pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.
“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.
“Robert,” I answered. “I’m Robert Peterson.
“Mine’s Wendy….I’m six.”
She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said.
In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.
“Come again, Mr. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”
The days and weeks that followed belonged to others; a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat. The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.
“Hello, Mr. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”
“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.
“I don’t know, you say.”
“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically. Her tinkling laughter burst forth again.
“I don’t know what that is.”
“Then let’s just walk,” I said. Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face.
“Where do you live?” I asked.
“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages.
Strange, I thought, in winter. “Where do you go to school?”
“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation,”
She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things.
When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. Three weeks later, I rushed to the beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.
“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.” She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.
“Why?” she asked.
I turned to her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” and thought, “My God, why was I saying this to a little child?”
“Oh,” she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”
“Yes,” I said, “and yesterday and the day before and – oh, go away!”
“Did it hurt?” she inquired.
“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.
“When she died?” she asked.
“Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself.
I strode off. A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.
“Hello,” I said. “I’m Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was.”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies.”
“Not at all-she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said.
“Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you,”
Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.
“She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called “happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly…” Her voice faltered. “She left something for you…if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”
I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with “Mr. P” printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues — a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY. Tears welled up in my eyes and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words — one for each year of her life — that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand – who taught me the gift of love.
NOTE FROM ROTI: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy life, living, and each other. “The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.” Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important and what is only a momentary setback or crisis. Today, tomorrow, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment….even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses.
AND FINALLY ….
Whatever are they teaching in UK schools these days? These are some answers from GCSE Exam papers:
1 Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.
2 Nero was a cruel tyranny who woud torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them.
3 Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonised by Bernard Shaw.
4 Queen Elizabeth was the virgin queen. As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted “Hurrah”.
5 The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of heroic couplet. Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.
6 Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise regained.
and my favourite –
7 Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made King. Dying, he gasped out: ” Tee Hee, Brutus”