As part of its effort to preserve the old Central Market building, the Hong Kong government has turned the walkway linking the Mid-Levels Escalator and Hang Seng Bank HQ into a sort of indoor park comprising wooden floorboards, potted plants, seating, canned birdsong and wall-mounted TVs. Usually, few people dawdle apart from bewildered tourists, dismal street musicians and Mainland hawkers illegally selling spongy shoe inserts. Yesterday afternoon, however, clusters of passers-by formed around the televisions, attracted by a familiar voice, weak with age but carrying an unmistakable tone of angry defiance: “We must get back Lanceford.”
In the latest episode of the Big Lychee’s favourite soap opera, Stanley Ho’s lawyers Oldham, Li & Nie release video footage of the elderly casino king accusing his numbers-two and -three wives and kids – the Pansy/Daisy/Ina faction – of pressuring him into signing documents and making filmed statements against his will. In some circumstances, suspicions that devious relatives were tricking a confused old parent into handing over his estate might prompt the interest of social services or the police. In wonderfully democratic Hong Kong, all of us are welcome to sit down and enjoy the action, blow by blow.
My hunch is that we are approaching the denouement. Ho himself suggests that he is happy to overlook the asset-grab as a “misunderstanding, so we can start afresh.” (The Standard helpfully offers a transcript.) Maybe the old guy has read his Sun Tzu; he is offering Pansy/Daisy/Ina a way to retreat with dignity (or whatever people have in the way of seemliness when allegedly caught trying to rip off Daddy in his more easily confused moments).
This would also let PR company Brunswick off a hook. If a lawyer represents scoundrels or criminals he is simply doing his duty; but if a PR company helps present wrongdoing as fair and just, isn’t it an accomplice? No doubt they have everything squared from an official, corporate ethics point of view, but we can be forgiven for asking these corporate communications experts, should we bump into them sometime, just how low they will go to make a few bucks.
It could be that Pansy/Daisy/Ina will react like all self-regarding, rich and oblivious Hong Kong women would, namely by erupting in a blazing fit of screeching self-righteous fury. And this, of course, is what the pedestrians strolling through Central Market and seven million other entertainment fans will earnestly hope to see. But the loving daughters and wives will have to come up with something impressive as a counter to the YouTube videos.
If I were Brunswick, I would advise holding a press conference at which the real Stanley Ho, identical in every respect to the one in the Oldham, Li & Nie video, makes an appearance. He would stand up, demand the right to transfer his wealth to certain favoured offspring and accuse the lawyers and the families of wives one and four of creating and manipulating a clone of himself in order to get their dastardly way. And if I were Oldham, Li & Nie, I would burst into the press conference towards the end, have burly henchmen hold down the supposedly ‘real’ Dr Ho, and tear the skin off his body to reveal a giant lizard-alien from a distant galaxy. The Hong Kong public deserves nothing less.