Pro-dems’ choice: Franklin Lam or mammary glands?

With so many injustices, scandals and horrors to rant about, do Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators have room to squeeze in one more? If not, the mini-uproar over Executive Council member Franklin Lam may prove short-lived unless they ease up on some of their myriad other causes.

Like Leung Chun-ying, whom he supported for Chief Executive long before it became wise/briefly fashionable/compulsory, Lam made his zillions out of the Big Lychee’s rigged and warped real-estate market. But, also like CY, he is not part of the developers’ cabal. As a banker who specialized in equities analysis, he and his investor clients profited through his understanding of a twisted and damaging system that was not of his making. Trendy ‘ethical’ investment purists might think that hypocritical; the rest of us can only acknowledge the success represented by a portfolio of 25 properties.

As that declaration of interests shows in a hastily scribbled-in amendment, that number was until recently 27. The allegation is that he recently sold a couple of apartments to dodge the impact of the new stamp duty regime on property transactions. The timing tells you he wouldn’t have known about the new measures. So do the facts that he left 25 unsold, and that he sits on ExCo and declares interests – assuming that he is not a total idiot.

Essentially retired, Lam’s main hobby before ExCo was his sort-of think-tank, HKGolden50, introduced and examined exquisitely here. Although he profited from ex-CE Donald Tsang’s deranged pro-developer/anti-people/anti-economy land strategy, Lam happily proposes the opposite approach: provide more space.

Specifically, he suggests big expansions in residential, commercial and other capacity in areas like Tung Chung. His mistake, in my humble opinion, is to assume that the Mainland influx is a permanent phenomenon that we must build to accommodate. My hunch is that the crush of ‘locusts’ will ease off when the Chinese government sorts out milk powder supplies and high luxury goods taxes, and the arbitrage effect vanishes (as arbitrage opportunities usually do). And while we’re waiting for that to happen, a ration of one visit per three months for Shenzhen-ites, as a Mainland anti-smuggling measure, will do the trick.

On the subject of milk powder, pro-democrats in search of a more worthwhile target than Lam may be interested to know that a fight is brewing between the government and manufacturers of infant formula. Hong Kong has traditionally not heavily regulated quasi-medical industries like cosmetics/beauty and baby food, but this is now changing. Although ‘consumer protection’ can go to counter-productive lengths (and notwithstanding, also, the breast-feeding lobby’s occasional rhetorical excesses), the administration’s proposed code looks largely sensible; some might say it should go further.

The real scumbags here – and there comes a point where you really do wonder how low people will stoop to make a living – are the marketing and advertising creeps. Promotional materials for formula unashamedly suggest, in essence, that their brand is better than anything from Gerber, Nestle or mammary glands, because drinking it will guarantee that your kid’s IQ doubles and he or she will become a high-flying lawyer with a PhD from Harvard and a Nobel prize for piano-playing, by age 10.

Our officials want the ads to be ‘scientific and factual’. It’s all here. The industry is of course as outraged as a property developer having to give an accurate apartment size. The pro-dems, mindful of that thing about my enemy’s enemy, will presumably rave about something else.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Pro-dems’ choice: Franklin Lam or mammary glands?

  1. Lois Beluga says:

    What a segue….

    Accommodation to milk formula in three hundred words.

    Only great minds can do this.

  2. Maugrim says:

    The sad fact is that a number of the pro-dems gain their daily bread and that of their relatives, from the same sort who own much of the business trade that exists in HK. The result is not wanting to go too far to bite the hand that feeds/clothes them. The result is that many will switch from voting for our expensively clad and comfortably quartered Dems to vote for more extreme elements, the rationale being that these people understand and speak for grass roots far better.

  3. Mary Hinge says:

    According to a comment by “toddmartini” (so, hey, it must be true) in the SCMP: “Danny Weixi Zhou is listed in LinkedIn as an “Investment Banking Analyst at Citi (Real Estate Investment Banking Analyst at Citi )” since 2010 and it appears a resident of HK since 2009. No HK education accreditation here either, and with a Mainland surname, we can assume a non-resident and not a permanent resident card holder in HK.

    So did Franklin not only have material non-public information in selling his flat, but also brought in a Mainland buyer who he knew professionally (very likely given that Franklin Lam headed up UBS O’Connor Asset Mgt buy-side for the last few years, specializing in HK & China property) as a buyer to avoid the coming 15% stamp duty? A win-win as they say.”

    Oh, and I thought Regina Ip’s knee-jerk, no-analysis-required defence of Franklin yesterday was a joy to behold.

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    Forgot to add/explain: Danny Weixi Zhou was a buyer of one of Frankin’s properties.

  5. Dawei says:

    Banning advertising in HK will only reduce brand awareness, and possibly some demand. Most parents will just go online for their information sourced directly from the companies website, which I presume will still be permitted to spout their spiel. Far better to control what can and cannot be claimed plus the usual disclaimer that breast feeding is the best for your kid, unless they are 12 years old of course. Nature abhors a vacume.

  6. PCC says:

    Nature abhors misspelled words, too.

  7. Oik says:

    My beef is with the ridiculous 10 weeks of maternity leave that mums here get thereby effectively forcing them back to work and their babies onto artificial milk powder far too early.

    Even China has a civilised 10-12 months maternity leave.

    Another aspect of HK working life where we remain in the Dark Ages.

  8. Real Tax Payer says:

    My heart goes out to Franklin, as it did to Anthony Leung with his stupid pregnant-wife-mobile thing.

    SO stupid and facile

    How can anyone in their right minds think that intelligent guys like Anthony Leung or Franklin Lam would be SO SILLY as to take an option to buy/ sell just days before a govt initiative about which they really DID have advance knowledge ?


    Sorry, but this is total BS squared

    Oh yes……. I can think of someone who would think thus : it’s the Neanderthal people-power Albert (Albert whatever… ) anyway the bald-headed guy who deserves to be locked up in a cage at Ocean Park as an example of evolution in its earliest phase of “modern man” human IQ , except that Albert , who inherited the bald head (but not the IQ) of his predecessors, comes from an entirely unconnected gene pool called the “If if it don’t need any IQ, don’t fix it (shucks ! don’t teenagers these days understand the whole bottom line …… WHAO ! Get back on the beach ASAP ”

    If democracy puts idiots like him in power then lon g live the CCCCCCP !

  9. Jason says:

    @RTP: It was not only his misconduct, or if you prefer “oversight”, what terminated Anthony Leung’s political carreer. He was one of the most visible faces of the desastrous Tung government. Most people were just happy, when he had to leave, for whatever reason. Lam’s case is different: He is hardly known. And I think it’s completely irrelevant for most people, if he is Exco mmember or not.
    Your rant against Albert Chan smells like pure CCP propaganda. He is certainly one of the most credible Legco members at this moments. I bet, he still will be in Legco, when your idol CYL returns to obscurity.

  10. mjrelje says:

    RTP: An example of utter stupidity and corruption can currently be seen in the Waxwork Hall ‘of the People’ with the butcher of Beijing, the Panda like President, the total wanker Lu Ping and blubber bear himself Grandpa Wen.

  11. Vile says:

    Copious use of CAPITALS and multiple punctuation also has a nasty whiff of CCP about it, RIGHT???????????????!!!!

Comments are closed.