Laisee (or lai see) are red packets, filled with new bills and given to family, staff and others during festive occasions such as Chinese New Year and weddings. Cactus Kate is based in Hong Kong and hence gives her staff bonuses for Chinese New Year. As a capitalist she believes that she should place different amounts in each staff member’s envelope, based on relative performance. The tension is that local custom has other rules, based on seniority, equity and closeness of the relationship.
When in Rome (or Hong Kong) it’s important firstly to understand and secondly to follow local customs, such as red envelopes, but to also consider carefully which parts to adopt and which parts to change. Get local advice, talk to other foreigners about what they do, and above all, stay legal.
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