‘Excellent Wife’ Cooking Class Offered by Hong Kong Gas Supplier

(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.

The HK$2,500 ($320) 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. “Perhaps Towngas needs to modernize 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.”

“Based on the sharing with our customers from time to time, they would like to learn cooking skills to make nice meals for their husbands and boyfriends, so we designed this course for our members, and men are also welcome,” Hong Kong & China Gas said in an email. “We will launch a series of cooking courses for different market segments and this course is just part of our promotion.”

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

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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 percent as investors bought defensive stocks. Its shares slipped 0.1 percent Monday morning, the last session of trade in Hong Kong before Lunar New Year holidays.

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