Wed, 29 Nov 2006
The Big Boss drags me into a meeting with a fellow tycoon, ‘Dr’ Tai. The proud owner of an honorary doctorate from a little heard-of university in a distant land, Tai straddles the generations of the current and former Chairman of S-Meg Holdings.
“My father always told me to be nice to him,” mutters our illustrious leader, “But they’re nothing now.” The Tai family made its fortune trading durians back in the 1950s, then lost much of it by going into property at the peak of the market in the ‘70s. The fading company is ripe for asset stripping, but face overrides commercial sense in these circles. “This is a bit embarrassing,” the Big Boss whispers before we enter the reception room where the gentleman is waiting. “Hopefully, when he sees you he’ll, um, go away.”
Unfortunately, Dr Tai is unfazed by the appearance of S-Meg Holdings’ most exotic staff member and eagerly gets down to business. He wants his son to be made a Justice of the Peace. Many of his friends’ sons sport a ‘JP’ tag after their name, and he thinks it’s unfair that his own boy, now in his 40s, should be left out. He reminds us that he was one of the first members of the business community to start saying rude things about Chris Patten in the early 1990s, and the family donated generous sums for Mainland flood victims a few years ago.
We sit and nod politely. The Big Boss says he will speak to Donald about it. You can tell you’ve been in Hong Kong too long when you find nothing remotely strange about a man feeling that his loyalty to the Communist Party and the Chinese motherland should be rewarded by the symbolic appointment of his first-born to an English public office dating back to 1361.
TO ATONE for their spelling mistake in a headline last Saturday, the South China Morning Post today comes up with Most Deadpan Photo Caption of the Week…