It’s not whether you break the rules, it’s the way that you do it

Maverick/wacko/scumbag pro-Beijing businessman Lew Mon-hung spends the afternoon at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, who are investigating his alleged, rather desperate, attempt to get the anti-graft sleuths off his back for an earlier – and needless to say, also alleged – offence. As the crestfallen face suggests, this is called ‘digging yourself into a hole’. If the agency has a case, it seems that Lew imagined he could threaten Chief Executive CY Leung: call the ICAC off, or I drop a political bombshell by spilling the beans about you.

Is it still blackmail if you don’t have anything serious on your intended victim? One for the lawyers. Either way, the dirt Lew said he would dish out proved illusory. More stuff about trellises and a claim that CY dangled the promise of a symbolic political post if he won last year’s quasi-election. Maybe his defender will advise him to go for an ‘unsound mind’ plea, perhaps in the footsteps of Charles Guiteau, the disgruntled office-seeker who assassinated President James Garfield in 1882, as someone whose dashed hopes fuelled his psychopathic delusions. The alternative would be to come across as a grubby, distasteful, odious lowlife who thinks the rules don’t apply to him.

On the subject of the rules not applying, Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong looks set to make a killing from selling hotel suites at the Apex Horizon, while government officials try to work out what’s going on. While developers routinely outsmart (or otherwise find ways to obtain privileged treatment from) our bureaucrats, this case is hilarious not only for being so blatant but for highlighting the idiocy of the high land-price policy.

The government says it wants homes to be affordable, yet insists on the payment of a huge, up-front, de-facto tax on residential land. If the kitchen-less apartments at Apex Horizon look like decent value for money, it’s because they don’t have this element in the price. Buyers could end up in a legal or financial nightmare. But it would be nice to think that a load of families end up with a (by local standards) bargain home that’s perfect – apart from the stranger who comes in and puts a chocolate on your pillow every evening.

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10 Responses to It’s not whether you break the rules, it’s the way that you do it

  1. Maugrim says:

    Does anyone know where I can find an English translation of ‘dream bear’s’ initial allegations? I’m told its an interesting insight into how politics operates in HK.

  2. Poor DreamBear, he believed the sign on the door when it said Independent and Against Corruption.

    As for CY, like Mel Brooks put it, it’s good to be the king. We shall not require the government to retain documents that might be incriminating and we will block investigations by anyone that might have the power to ferret out the buried truth.

    Now let’s get back to burying those IDs on business registrations that let nogoodniks figure out that CY’s illustrious Paul Chan was an illegal sub-divided flat slumlord and increase the plot ratio on government projects to increase the property tycoons profit margins and keep HKers in their proper sardine tins.

  3. Regislea says:

    Not a lawyer, but to the question “Is it still blackmail if you don’t have anything serious on your intended victim? “, I would have thought ‘Yes’.

    All blackmail has an element of bluff – so even if you actually have nothing it’s still blackmail or demanding money with menaces or something.

    Secondly, what you might consider serious, I might not. For example, if I have an open marriage, is a threat to spill the beans to my wife about my Wanchai wanderings a “serious threat”? Probably not, but if I were a Family Court judge, then it probably would be.

  4. Bela Leone says:

    Coming soon

    FOR A FEW BILLION DOLLARS MORE

    Two bounty hunters, Leung and “CCP”, are after the same man, LKS. At first, they go their own ways, but eventually get together to try and find him. But are they after him for the same reason ? Yes they are! They want kick the greedy octogenarian up the ass and redistribute all his loot.

  5. Failed Alchemist says:

    Hating to admit this but Regina seems to be coming of age in regards to Dream Pooh incessant ridiculous whisperings in the corridors of power as per her interview on Newsline. She is much better than the dullards (read Liberals, Civics, Labour and to a certain extent DAB for their elegant silence) and Che wannabes that want to burn the roof of the government’s structure.

    Of course as per the little debate between Alex Lo & dear Audrey, the premise of the latter is there shouldn’t be smoke w/o a fire but since rule of law still exist, any lawyer worth their salt will talk about evidence, not some sliver of honey from Pooh Bear.

    But the worst edictment on HK’s politics is how can a colourful character like Pooh Bear pass through the doors of LEGCO and become such a powerful powerbroker even for CY’s election bid… the answer lies in the company of friends he keeps and wields influence with. Sigh…

  6. Msholozi says:

    And talking of the high land price policy, how about the MTR withdrawing its residential site in Tin Shui Freaking Wai because none of the bids were high enough.

    If every government official, every developer (including developer with a small train business MTR Corp), and all the property agents in Hong Kong had to throw themselves off the tallest building in the “City of Tears”, does anyone give a rat’s ass who hits the ground first.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    A couple of serious points ( for once) :

    1. What on earth is LKS trying to achieve with this selling-hotel-rooms-as- apartments gig, whether it’s legal or not ? The ostensible reason is that the CK sub-sub-sub Ltd company which owns the hotel needs the HK$800 mil cash and they have been planning this for over one year. Pull the other leg : it has bells on it.

    Doesn’t LKS sleep with billions under his pillow ? So why on earth do this at such a time when everyone knows CY is trying to pull down home prices unless it’s just to piss off CY ?

    OK – it’s just to piss off CY. Fair game . But what kind of a***hole does this kind of stunt on purpose? It makes LKS look even grubbier and certainly more small-minded than the grubby Loo-poo-bear.

    I pity the idiots who bought into this hotel. They will have legal problems beyond their worst nightmares, not to mention exorbitant hidden extra charges ad infinitum which even Machiavelli could not devise

    2. We all know and understand ( or at least should and understand) that the enormous land premiums are a hidden form of taxation. Finally it’s the wretched home owner or his tenant who pays for it.

    Suppose the govt removes the reserve price on land in order to halve housing costs, so theoretically one can buy land at $1 / hectare. Would the property tycoons stop bidding up the price to their historic billion levels? I suspect not because this would devalue all their developments-in-progress and wipe out the value of their land banks . So it’s heads the tycoons win and tails we property-owners lose forever.

    Unless… just unless … the govt puts all future land on auction at zero reserve and allows only – say – Mainland developers to bid ?
    (And if pigs had wings …)

  8. Phileas Fogg says:

    President Johnson said it was better to have someone in the tent pissing out.

    In your case, perhaps it’s better just to bed down for the night.

  9. charm fairs says:

    RTP – re your question “So why on earth do this at such a time when everyone knows CY is trying to pull down home prices unless it’s just to piss off CY ?”

    The simplest answer would be that KS Li is selling his worst-situated property (a shoddy pseudo-hotel in heavily-polluted Kwai fucking Chung, a mini-bus ride away from the nearest MTR, with a swimming pool that closes at 7pm) at a huge profit at the top of the market by exploiting a one-time opportunity, because the government is now going to have close that loophole.

    The message I’m getting from this is that KS thinks the bubble is close to popping. I don’t think he’s slightly worried about whether CY is embarrassed or not. Cheung Kong will be around long after CY has been packed off to whatever retirement program exists for ineffective commie toadies.

  10. Big Al says:

    I believe that the retirement programme for ex-government folk is here:
    http://www.vmo.org/en/index/

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