Scurrilous old story dredged up for hell of it

In dictatorships, leaders can have pasts that involve money-laundering, murder or cannibalism – indeed, they may be requirements for the job. In democracies, however, political parties and governments should ideally vet individuals who aspire to high office. If a candidate has had an affair, formerly used recreational drugs, is addicted to gambling or was once photographed falling down drunk, his minders will need to know. Past indiscretions don’t necessarily bar someone from rising to the top, but if they pop up unexpectedly they can blow a career to smithereens, as recent Republican presidential hopeful du jour Herman Cain seems to be finding out.

Here in Hong Kong, with our curious democratic-except-for-elections system, political leaders get their positions handed to them on a plate, yet we are nonetheless free to torment them by exposing whatever grotesqueness we can dredge up in their backgrounds. And while all the signs are that Beijing has been grooming Henry Tang as Chief Executive material for many years, it looks as if the cadres never bothered to check his past for potentially embarrassing murkiness. I say ‘looks as if’ because the Communist Party maintains extensive files on tens of millions of people, and Chinese officials almost certainly keep meticulously recorded dirt on many friends as well as foes here in the Big Lychee. The revelations about Henry’s extramarital activities and rumours of illegitimate offspring could, of course, come from elements within the Chinese power structure favouring his opponent CY Leung – if we like conspiracy theories. Alternatively, we could go for the more mundane explanation, namely that over the years the powers that be failed to take seriously enough the possibility that nice Henry had a roguish history, let alone that Hong Kong had a roguish press.

Screwing around and even siring bastards does not need to be a political death sentence. Spin it properly and public opinion could even feel sorry for an honourable man whose charm and wit drove sexually aggressive women with no sense of decency or respect for marriage to force themselves upon him. In Hong Kong, where people crave credentials (and honourary doctorates), the ultimate transgression among right-thinking people is cheating on your academic record. In 2001, Richard Li, another tycoon-scion, had to withdraw claims of a Stanford degree (though his website still has an earlier, glowing article mentioning it).

A year later, Oriental Daily and Next magazine revealed that Henry had apparently done the same. In a 1992 register of Legislative Council members, his biography showed him as having a Masters in sociology from Yale. The truth was that he attended grad school at Yale, and no more. It caused a brief flurry of interest at the time, and then that was it – dead and buried. And now, for some reason, it’s back from the grave.

Could this be a moment of ironic triumph for Henry: becoming the first person in the world to be humiliated for not having a sociology degree?

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12 Responses to Scurrilous old story dredged up for hell of it

  1. Stephen says:

    Well done Hemlock you have indeed been busy.

    So we can add porky pies about his academic achievements along with the numerous jumping the marital fence and siring a foal.

    Do hope the newspapers find space for this.

  2. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    If you want to be seen as an educated person, get an education. How much harder can it be than that?

  3. maugrim says:

    I disagree, I can’t see how Beijing (with all its security paranoia) can’t see the horse as a security risk with his numerous partners. As to the honorary Doctorate racket, you’re right. It’s strange the things that do and dont bring shame in this town.

  4. mumphLT says:

    Henry is taking the oft ridiculed approach of grinning like an imbecile and being daft and inarticulate. Apparently this will make us like him, make us think he has the common touch and is just the sort of disabled donkey Hong Kong needs as a Chief Executive That Won’t Have Any Ideas of His Own.

    He may well be onto something.

  5. Old Timer says:

    Is he still MD of Peninula Knitters on the side? If so the papers will likely soon be full of yarns about his woolly platform leading to a needle match against CY, etc.

  6. Probably says:

    Would anyone in therir right mind falsify having a Sociology degree? If I was so unfortunate as to have one I would try to hide the fact and pretend I had majored in a more academically rigourous subject such as Engineering or Quantum Physics.

    If your going to tell a lie make it a goog one. This is just another D- mark on the man.

  7. Iffy says:

    It’s hard to see a single argument, however small, suggesting that Henry actually MERITS the gig.

    I guess they will trot out the old “experience in government” line. Personally, I wouldn’t consider elevating any of the 10 year underachievers in my company to the CEO job.

    And surely serial, moronic dishonesty (beyond what any politician in a real democracy could survive) should be a disqualifier.

    Meanwhile, RTP explosion in 3…2…1…

  8. DF says:

    Boom!

    RIP RTP.

  9. Big Al says:

    So, he really didn’t get BA degree? If so, then the lie that he did has spread far and wide. The citation for his Honorary Doc from CityU (see
    http://www.cityu.edu.hk/cityu/about/honorary/doc/tang-en.pdf), which was awarded not long after he became FS, mentions him having a BA. However it also mentions that “Not only is he well-known to every household in Hong Kong, but he
    is a famous leader in China and the world”, so maybe accuracy isn’t CityU’s strong point.

    One other amusing description in the citation is that of Henry’s “successful and prosperous” career (in knitting) is that he is “… always seeking advice and putting together ideas from others” and, no doubt, passing them off as his own.

    Talk about spinning a yarn …

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    3,2,1 ……. BANG ! SH1T F**K Whatever !

    I have genuine MA and Ph D ( D. Phil) from one of the UK’s most prestigious Universities … hard earned , blood sweat and tears.

    Bloody sweat and tears ( and endless late night Chinese take-aways at midnight on my peddle bike)

    I never understood the USA academic hierachy , but Yale is somewhere up the top with Harvard, so I understand

    If this f*****g horse ( and I do mean f******g in more more than just a literary sense) has faked a Yale degree then that’s the limit and you will soon see RTP in outer orbit

    I may even resort to pushinga custard pie in his stoopid fancy grinning face with ” YALE ???” on the icing

    But meanwhile, I did register on CY’s website as a ” supporter” but a more pathetic website for a future CE I cannot imagine. Who is advising him ?

  11. David Chu says:

    Clearly Henry Tang’s fake Yale degree published in the official Executive and Legislative Councils Annual Report in 1992 shows that his integrity has a large flaw ! May be we see SOOOO much fake products, titles and informations nowadays, sense of Honor and Honesty seem so foreign and remote ! SAD, SAD for Hong Kong !!!

  12. David Chu says:

    Hi “Real Tax Payer”, why don’t you get a copy of the 1992 Legco Annual Report from the Legco Library (like what I did) and give it to all the people you know !

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