Success ingredient: table tennis
A new spin
For Lee Wai-ming, nothing beats ping pong diplomacy when it
comes to doing business
By Cookie Micaller Photography by Brian Ching
ee Wai-ming works as an accountant, but his A licensed table tennis coach, Lee says he is most
life involves another strikingly diﬀerent world: proud to have taught a 12-year-old girl from Shanghai
table tennis. In fact, his friends nicknamed him back in 1998 who won in a European tournament in
Klampar after the Hungarian table tennis superstar Tibor 2006 and was seeded number 13 in the under 21-world
Klampar because both play with a powerful backhand ranking of the International Table Tennis Federation as of
and produce wicked spins oﬀ their paddles. December 2006.
“I love table tennis. If I did not study accounting, Over the years, Lee has gathered a treasure trove of
maybe I would have been a table tennis coach,” says Lee, mementoes – a yellow jersey souvenir shirt signed by
who started as an audit clerk in the late 1980s and now Jan-Ove Waldner, the “Mozart” of table tennis and a
runs his own consulting ﬁrm. “Even now that I am a legend in his native Sweden and in China, and a top-of-
CPA, I haven’t left table tennis. I ﬂy to places where there the-line racquet given to him by Belarusian table tennis
are competitions.” star, Vladimir Samsonov, who played in the recent World
Lee’s entry into table tennis, an Olympic sport Team Table Tennis Championships in Guangzhou.
since 1988, began with a dare. A proud primary school Like the groundbreaking table tennis diplomacy
classmate and ping pong player once challenged him and between the United States and China from a bygone era,
said, “You cannot beat me, ever.” Lee fumed but could Lee has parlayed his shot-making prowess into business
not aﬀord any equipment. Luckily, he later stumbled on a deals. The sport, he says, is common ground in Hong
set of racquets and a net in a scrapheap on the streets. Kong and China and brings numerous beneﬁts to his
“I practised hard and got better and better,” Lee ﬁrm, which oﬀers auditing and consulting services to
recalls. Later on, he fell in love with the game and earned Shenzhen and Hong Kong companies.
a spot in the varsity team of Lingnan University. “Now, Hong Kong is part of China and every
Lee had the opportunity to cross racquets with two businessman has to do business with China. When I talk
of the world’s best ping pong players – China’s Wang about table tennis in China, they just love it.
Liqin (three times winner of the World Championship “I play with senior government oﬃcials from the
and a bronze medallist in the 2004 Olympics) and Kong tax department, ﬁnance department, the military and
Linghui (the 2000 Olympic gold medallist) – in 1994 lawyers. Last June, I was the training coach for the
when the pair visited Hong Kong to train the city’s table police force in Shenzhen but I didn’t do it for the money,
tennis players. just for goodwill.”
Over the years, Lee won, among other trophies, the Lee says table tennis is good training for accounting
Labour Union Cup Hong Kong Open in 1991 and the work. “During auditing, it makes me become more
Hong Kong Sports Festival in 1992 and 1993. He was detailed-oriented in my work. I become more patient. In
three times ﬁrst runner-up in the annual age-graded the auditor’s report, if you overlook one little thing, the
Hong Kong Open Championship and reached the eﬀect is very, very big.
quarterﬁnals of the prestigious Shanghai Open in China “Table tennis made me a strong person, not physically,
in 1999. but mentally. I feel more complete,” he says.
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Lee Wai-ming, who runs his own ﬁrm,
Power Consulting Ltd., says table
tennis is a good training ground for
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Success ingredient: equestrian
Nicholas Tan hopes Hong Kongers will come
to appreciate horse riding as more than a race,
writes Howard Tang
Photography by Brian Ching
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orse racing is one of Hong Kong people’s Hong Kong will host dressage, jumping and
favourite past-times, along with mahjong eventing on 9 to 11 August in Shatin and Beas
and eating – so much so that it has almost River in the New Territories. Dressage is often
become an obsession. But what about the sport of dubbed equestrian ballet as the horse must perform
horse riding? Apparently, not too many people here set movements or freestyle to music. Jumping
can tell the diﬀerence. requires the horse to clear a series of obstacles
And that, Nicholas Tan says, is the biggest battle and eventing combines dressage, cross-country
he and others involved in the Hong Kong Equestrian and jumping.
Federation’s Olympic committees had to ﬁght in The promotion sub-committee, comprising two
turning the city into China’s equine capital. full-time and six part-time members, went all out to
“We had to educate the Hong Kong public about interest Hong Kongers in the events and the Olympic
the diﬀerence between horse racing and horse riding,” Games – taking road shows to schools, opening to
the Deloitte audit partner tells A Plus. the public a riding school in the New Territories, and
Tan ﬁrst learned how to ride horses as a young boy staging a weekend carnival at Happy Valley.
on a Danish farm while on family vacation and is now Judging by the numbers, the carnival, which
a leisure rider. Because of his interest in horses and attracted at least 5,000 people, including journalists,
accounting skills, he got involved in 2005 with the celebrities and district councillors, had the biggest
sub-committee in charge of promoting the Olympic impact, Tan says.
2008 equestrian events in Hong Kong. Another high note in the marketing blitz was
Although he deals with numbers daily, Tan says bringing the horses and riders to schools. “Sending
handling a marketing budget for the Hong Kong riding experts on road shows to the schools was also
equestrian events was diﬀerent and more taxing, useful because it gave the kids a chance to meet with
especially the time-consuming tender processes, real horse riders and not horse racers. It also showed
where bidders had to be assessed individually on them a diﬀerent side of horses,” he says.
price and technical competence. With his hectic schedule as an audit partner at a
Projector photo: Tom Shaw/Getty Images
“We were given a budget and we had to make sure Big Four ﬁrm, how has Tan found the time to be so
everything would ﬁt within it,” he says. Fortunately, involved with such a gargantuan project?
with the government’s help, the sub-committee was Tan says his involvement in the Olympics allowed
able to plan the budget, which he declined to disclose, him to do something diﬀerent and “as accountants,
in great detail and met its target. we are experts at juggling our schedules.”
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Success ingredient: dragon boat
CPAs are attracted to the traditional Chinese
sport because of its emphasis on teamwork.
(From left) Eric Wong, director, Human Resources
Management Association; Zelinda Ng, Asia
Paciﬁc CFO, Equity Trust Group; and Sam
Yuen, internal audit manager, Giant Wireless
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United we stand
Three accountants tell Howard Tang why they are so
committed to dragon boating
Photography by Brian Ching
t ﬁrst glance, accountancy and dragon boating at Human Resources Management Association and
may seem worlds apart. So what drives a team of convenor of the dragon boat interest group. The
busy accountants to be so passionate about the team now has close to 50 members and regularly
sport that they are willing to endure grueling training for participates in the men’s boat and mixed boat races in
it every week? Hong Kong.
Sam Yuen, internal audit manager at Giant Dragon boat racing is gaining prominence in the
Wireless Technology Ltd. and member of the Institute’s international sports scene after being designated as an
dragon boat team, says he is attracted to the traditional oﬃcial sporting event in the 2010 Asian Games
Chinese sport because of its emphasis on teamwork, in Guangzhou.
much like accountants work in the oﬃce. Here in Hong Kong, its growing popularity as
Racers may be ﬁt and very strong but if they are not a team sport may be attributed to an annual season
in sync with the team, they may do more harm than of races lasting four to ﬁve months, usually from
good, says Yuen, who started paddling in 2002 while February to June.
living in Sydney and joined the Institute’s team a year The Hong Kong Tourism Board has also heavily
later. “There is no other sport that I can think of where promoted dragon boating because Hong Kong is one
individualism doesn’t exist at all.” of a few Southern Chinese cities that are near the coast
Zelinda Ng, another team member and Asia and have kept the tradition alive.
Paciﬁc CFO at Equity Trust Group, agrees with Yuen. “Dragon boating is a hidden treasure of Hong
“There is no ‘me’ in dragon boat. Team spirit is Kong,” says Yuen.
very important.” For the Institute’s dragon boat team, training is
Ng took up the sport after the 2003 SARS tough, lasting two hours every Sunday. This season, the
epidemic in Hong Kong, which prompted many Hong team held additional practices on Wednesday nights.
Kongers to rethink how to lead a healthier lifestyle. But members’ persistence and hard-work paid oﬀ,
“I wanted to do something outdoors so I ﬁgured given the collection of silverware the team bagged
spending time in the ocean would be a great option,” this season: second place in the Stanley Dragon Boat
Ng says. She was not disappointed and has now Association Warm-up Races mixed category and third
become addicted to the serenity and joy of being out place in the men’s category, and fourth place in the
on the water. International Dragon Boat Competition mixed plate
The Institute’s dragon boat team has grown every category (second division).
year since 2001, according to Eric Wong, a director “We hope to do even better next season,” Ng says.
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