Hong Kong gas company raises eyebrows with 'excellent wife' cooking class

   A spokesman for Hong Kong & China Gas confirmed the advertisement was authentic, but declined to elaborate on the decision behind the phrasing.
A spokesman for Hong Kong & China Gas confirmed the advertisement was authentic, but declined to elaborate on the decision behind the phrasing.PHOTO: TWITTER/WEBBHK

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - A Hong Kong company has raised eyebrows by promoting an "Excellent Wife" cooking course.

"If you aspire to be the best girlfriend or wife in town, 'Excellent Wife' cooking course is perfect for you," says the text on a flyer by Towngas Cooking Centre, which is operated by Hong Kong & China Gas Co. "Excellent Wife Certificate" is written in bold on the top.

A spokesman for Hong Kong & China Gas confirmed the advertisement was authentic, but declined to elaborate on the decision behind the phrasing.

The HK$2,500 (S$431) course consists of five lessons covering areas such as how to treat a new wok, steaming skills and abalone preparation, the company website shows.

Hong Kong's "Equal Opportunities Commission would be interested to know whether men are allowed to go to this course," said shareholder activist David Webb, who posted a caption of the flyer on his Twitter account on Saturday (Feb 2).

"Perhaps Towngas needs to modernise its marketing people. Hong Kong is a very conservative and old-fashioned society in many ways - they still don't allow gay marriage or civil unions for example."

Research by the Equal Opportunities Commission and Chinese University of Hong Kong last year showed women aren't favoured in hiring by Hong Kong employers. Meanwhile, the percentage of female directors in the city's benchmark index lags international peers, though many companies on the gauge are from mainland China.

Founded in 1862, Hong Kong & China Gas was the first public utility in the former British colony and now supplies town gas to about 1.9 million customers in the city, according to its website.

The company bucked the overall equity market trend over the past year, rising 22 per cent as investors bought defensive stocks. Its shares slipped 0.1 per cent Monday morning, the last session of trade in Hong Kong before Chinese New Year holidays.