But wouldn’t ‘Chow down’ make a great headline?

In a city where homes have become unaffordable to the majority of families, what does it make more sense to do with 20 hectares of space: build housing, or build a white-elephant stadium for bores who want to run/cycle/hop backwards round and round in circles? Under the administration of Donald Tsang, the answer would have been obvious: you do whatever best suits the tycoons who profit from both housing scarcity and pointless infrastructure construction. But in the zany, Mainlandizing-but-pro-welfare world of Chief Executive CY Leung, some officials dare to think otherwise.

Some things, on the other hand, never change – like the Big Lychee’s embarrassing families. I was wrong about the role of US education consultancy IvyAdmit concerning the family of Gerald Chow, dentist and director of Chow Sang Sang jewellery chain. IvyAdmit did provide tutoring and hand-holding for the Chows’ two boys in the US, and is being sued by the Chows for return of US$2 million intended to help get the kids into Harvard. But the consultants’ tutors also researched and wrote essays for Gerald himself as he did (or ‘did’) his Masters in Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government. Lots of snarky discussion here, here, etc, and the campus paper joins in, with some readers demanding that Harvard withdraw the degree.

I’m most freaked out by the fact that it’s Chow’s own legal team that submitted such damaging evidence for all the world to see. They presumably feel that the documents bolster his case against IvyAdmit’s Mark Zimny, and to hell with however else the materials might incriminate their client. The only explanations are that Chow needs his money back really badly, or has a hypersensitive attachment to principle, or – could it just be? – simply doesn’t think that paying for essays for a degree is in any way wrong. (You mean you’re supposed to do all that yourself?) But he must have studied in person for his DDS dental degree, right?

As a story about the deranged lengths people go to in order to get their kids into a particular school, it’s sordid enough. Now it’s doubly, trebly, and deliciously, horrible. If Gerald Chow were, say, the Under-Secretary at the Education Bureau – and in the wacky CY Leung era it’s bizarre that he’s not – this would of course be a big story in the Hong Kong press. As it is, his main public role apart from directorship of the listed family company is a 2010-11 part-time spell at the government’s so-called think-tank, the Central Policy Unit. Under Donald Tsang’s administration, such appointments were mostly pats on the head for docility (spot the tycoons’ kids and second-tier plutocrats in the current line-up). It is quite possible that Chow did no meaningful think-tankery, thus it’s not much of a ‘Government advisor cheated to get degree’ story.

One possible angle is that Chow is not the first Hongkonger to get a Masters in Public Administration at KSG: Donald Tsang is a fellow alumnus (and yes, that does make you wonder what sort of qualification it is). But will the South China Morning Post news editor think that makes it any more newsworthy? Probably not. File under ‘pathetic’ rather than ‘scandalous’. The story’s worth – especially if Harvard strips Chow of his degree – is as a morality tale and a reflection of Hong Kong’s values (which is a euphemism for ‘lurid, embarrassing, crashing of someone’s reputation that we can’t take our eyes off’). Tons of stuff for investigative reporters to browse. But this just doesn’t rank with taking photos up schoolgirls’ skirts or offering half a billion bucks to straighten out your gay daughter. Perhaps the real story is one of desperate, Kamikaze legal tactics (neatly summarized as a), b) and c) here).

Chow Sang Sang have frequently taken advertising space in the South China Morning Post; I’m sure nothing will happen that will prevent us from seeing the ads again.

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23 Responses to But wouldn’t ‘Chow down’ make a great headline?

  1. Lois Beluga says:

    Oh enough of these nonentities surely. They have a simple line in their minds…

    Money=success=potency=face=rapture.

    Let us rejoice instead at the news that a bus has flattened a taxi in TST. Not as rapturous as a Mercedes crashing into a taxi or the nirvana of two taxis colliding but all the same…

    Then there is the Coq D’Argent restaurant in London where four bankers have committed suicide the past few years. A few weeks ago, the last one also demolished part of the restaurant on his way down.

    You see, it’s all question of attitude. There is sunshine out there for everyone. It’s a wonderful world full of rainbows and Maltese Terriers. Say yes.

  2. arm bears says:

    Given that the typical Chow Sang Sang customer these days can’t speak English or Cantonese, one wonders why they bother advertising the South China Morning Toady at all. Maybe it’s just to ensure they have editorial influence when needed, similar to paying one’s local triad for ‘protection’.

  3. Real Tax Payer says:

    Interesting that you picked up on the Kai Tak stadium story

    That also struck me in a kind of very positive way as step forward in the right direction.

    Seems the main objection from the reactionaries is that to scrap (or move) the stadium goes against some 2 – year long public consensus exercise back in 2008, which de facto over-rules anything that has happened in HK and world since then.

    Did you know that the brain of an ostrich is smaller than one of its eyes, which is why, assume, ostriches bury their head in the sand when they are scared.

    Hmmmmmm seems we have more than a few ostriches as well as dinosaurs in govt

  4. stanley gibbons says:

    @Lois Beluga

    George – Have you now taken to drinking in the mornings?

  5. Old Timer says:

    Did Gerald Chow name himself after fellow foot-in-gob shiny-trinket pedlar Gerald Ratner, I wonder?

  6. Vile says:

    To play devil’s advocate for a moment, the question raised by Mr Ma bears answering: “If the stadium can be built elsewhere, why can’t those residential buildings?”. Wouldn’t more and denser public housing be better located in the upcoming Yuen Long NDAs, possibly diluting their future mainly-mainland-population, rather than in overcrowded East Kowloon?

    Admittedly a stadium wouldn’t be the best use of the space, personally I would turn the entire Kai Tak site, runway and all, into a sort of NY Central Park. The area is already overly developed as it is and it will be more so with the huge number of units being constructed downhill of Anderson Road. If you want more housing around there, redevelop some redundant industrial units (“convert” would be too radical).

  7. Maugrim says:

    In a territory where an honorary doctorate can mean someone can shamelessly demand, and be called doctor without any social ostracism whatsoever, the only ‘wrong’ thing that Gerald did was not to have donated the whole $16m to the University as an honorarium, thus enuring both he and his spawn got both face and a nice gown. It works for everyone else.

  8. Richard Branson says:

    I think Kai Tak should be developed into a city airport, like the one in London, for regional commuter/business flights. Then we woudn’t need a third runway at CLK.

  9. Big Al says:

    @ Real Shit Sayer
    I refer to yesterday’s a), b), c) summation, and must take issue with a). If our Gerald was running true to form, instead of “a) deliberately shitting in your pants”, we should have “a) deliberately paying a tutor to shit in your pants”. b) and c) work fine with this amendment. Please review and revise (6 marks) (fee: USD 2,137.48, including new pants).

  10. Real Shit Sayer says:

    @ Big Al

    I stand / sorry sit / sorry shit corrected

    The check is in the male

    🙂

  11. Joe Blow says:

    It seems that ‘Richard Branson’ has also taken to drinking in the morning.

    Maybe you and Bela could start a Monday Morning Club at the OCH.

  12. Stephen says:

    Does Gerald not have one of those Grand Bauhinas or at least a JP? He’s pretty shite even King of LKF, Dr Allen Semen has a bauhina as well as his hononary Doctorate.

    BTW wasn’t the whole stadium thing supposed to be a swap for the current one that can’t be used due to noise – except sevens noise which must be different ?

  13. isomoliu says:

    Papa Chow apparently had no complaints regarding the tutoring he received as he did get his “MPA (HARVARD)”. His one-year course may well be part of the “Plan” to get First Son and Second Son into their dream school.

    http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=8389843&ticker=116:HK
    http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/04/07/IvyAdmit.pdf

  14. Chimp says:

    “The story’s worth – especially if Harvard strips Chow of his degree – is as a morality tale and a reflection of Hong Kong’s values (which is a euphemism for ‘lurid, embarrassing, crashing of someone’s reputation that we can’t take our eyes off’).”

    I don’t normally have too much to argue with, re: Hemmers, but this is a bit much.

    If “Gerald” Chow’s values are Hong Kong’s values, then those values are universal, as that kind of thing goes on everywhere. Proving the many from the few is a logical absurdity (forget the name… Lois would know).

  15. Real Tax Payer says:

    I guess the real moral of the story is that if you want to get your teeth fixed do NOT go to Dr. King Sing Chow, Gerald, DDS, MBA, MPA (HARVARD) ( Executive Director of Chow Sang Sang Holdings International Ltd. )

  16. Cerebos says:

    Why is no one wondering why this guy is a dentist in the first place? He’s in exalted company. Is it for the same reason that Bashar al-Assad is also a dentist?

  17. Joe Blow says:

    If Lance gets stripped of his Tour titles, then Chow should get stripped of his MBA. They both cheated.

    I think Dr. Assad -at least he is a real doctor- is an eye-specialist. Never mind that he can’t see the obvious.

  18. PCC says:

    Good point. Zell, the White Angel of ‘Marathon Man’ fame, was also a dentist.

  19. Real Tax Payer says:

    The news about Armstrong is just out on the wire : ” sickened” was the key word.

    I must say, Armstrong was a viable – nay worthy – idol … for a while. And I indeed admired the man , and somehow emotionally still do so ( although now proven wrongly)

    But cheats are cheats, and eventually all the cheats in the world will eventually be exposed , whether before death or posthumously (e.g Jimmy Saville) … and dare one also say Mao ?

    CY is slowly and arduously rolling back Donald Duck’s dismal legacy. Call that “progress” if you wish, or something worse, depending on your political persuasion.

    As for me , I’m just grateful that the awful henry tang did not get in, otherwise come 2017 the roll-back would have become so huge that maybe it could never be rolled back.

    I think that CY is destined for just one term. He will have to do so many totally unpopular things in his 5 years that he will have no chance to ever be re-elected in 2017.

    But if that’s the case, I do hope and trust that history will eventually judge CY correctly in his own little cabbage patch of HK, just as now history is starting to judge correctly the legacy of Deng Xiaoping in the huge open field of China.

    Deng didn’t give a rat’s ass about what people thought about him during his lifetime as long as he did the the “right thing” for the long-term future of China ( and HK ) , and Deng was confident enough to let history write his life’s verdict correctly long after he died.

    Of one thing I am certain – it’s that Deng will eventually go down in perpetuity as one of the greatest Chinese leaders of all time.

    No cheats there.

    Tang was/ is at heart a cheat on a par with the Chows.

    But I somehow feel that CY is no cheat at heart, even though he is biased and whatever.

  20. bau gua says:

    there’s rumours he used a lot of hooker the year he “studied” at Harvard.

  21. changsze says:

    now SCMP is writing about it, little late:
    http://www.scmp.com/comment/article/1067505/harvard-gerald-chow-took-tutoring-extreme

    take away this chap’s degree already like lance’s medals!

  22. arm bears says:

    Well spotted, Changze.

    Big Lychee, Oct 22: “One possible angle is that Chow is not the first Hongkonger to get a Masters in Public Administration at KSG: Donald Tsang is a fellow alumnus (and yes, that does make you wonder what sort of qualification it is). But will the South China Morning Post news editor think that makes it any more newsworthy? Probably not.”

    SCMP’s deputy news editor, Oct 23: “Oh, ex-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was a fellow alumnus, too. A lot of good that did us.”

  23. Real Tax Payer says:

    I missed that Alex Lo op-ed

    Thanks to Changsze for highlighting it

    Alex is always top ball / right on target / NO SHIT

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