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Cornwall Court Fire Tragedy; Bill Gates in Hong Kong; Shopaholics (15 Aug 2008)


On Sunday a blaze at Cornwall Court in Nathan Road killed two firemen and two members of the public, and injured more than fifty others. The fire began in a karaoke parlour. Built in 1962, Cornwall Court is a fifteen storey composite or "mixed use" building. The tragedy highlighted the fire risk posed by such buildings, which contain both residential and commercial properties. In 1996, the Garley Building fire killed 41 and injured 80 more. The following year a fire at Mei Foo Sun Chuen killed nine and injured 37. Such cases led to the enactment of the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance in 2002. It wasn't implemented until 1st July last year. In the first nine months of its implementation, only 803 of 9,000 or more such blocks had been inspected. 524 had received warnings. At such a rate it could take ten years to check all such buildings, but the administration now says it hopes to inspect all karaoke parlours and nightclubs in these composite buildings within the next month. With us in the studio to discuss the dangers, and ways to minimise them, are Former Director of Fire Services Anthony Lam, and Edward Yiu of the Department of Real Estate and Construction at The University of Hong Kong. On Tuesday evening, the chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, was speaking at a Hong Kong forum on innovation on information technology. The forum included local academics, industry leaders and policymakers. One area on which Mr Gates placed particular emphasis was the development of a knowledge-based economy, in which citizens and businesses could realize the full potential of the information society. This week the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals released the results of a survey, conducted last year with the University of Hong Kong, examining compulsive buying in the Chinese community. 6.7 per cent of people interviewed in the study could be classified as compulsive shoppers. A third of the compulsive shoppers interviewed had five or more credit cards, with some holding up to fifteen. 70% had outstanding balances on all their cards. In other countries, up to 90% of shopaholics are women. What surprised the researchers here was that as many as 40% of local shopaholics are men.

The Pulse
Publish Date: 
Friday, August 15, 2008
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