Enjoy Yourself Tonight

When bureaucracies are not using it to crucify harmless nonentities to justify their existence, the criminal justice system is a reliable source of entertainment. Hong Kong today settles down into its easy chair to watch two juicy cases unfold: the trial of feng-shui master/born-again Christian/Nina Wang toyboy Tony/Peter Chan for forging a will, and the proceedings against civil servants Mak Chai-kwong and Tsang King-man, who are charged with defrauding the government of housing allowances.

The former production is a fantasy in full Technicolor and stereo, while the latter is more of a morality tale, strictly monochrome with no special effects. In both cases, viewers will be licking their lips in anticipation of the final outcomes: punishments – preferably severe and devoid of any shred of mercy. The harsher, the better. It’s not anything as high-minded as blind retribution; we just want to see them suffer for the pure pleasure of it. Life just hasn’t been the same since they abolished public executions.

Not long ago, Tony Chan was a cheeky ex-bartender who had apparently inveigled his way into the heart and bank account of a flamboyant but dying billionaire widow. He backed up the unconvincing will he said she wrote in his favour with stories of massaging the lady, leading her through quaint-sounding voodoo rituals and otherwise servicing her. The lurid multiplicity of audacities, breaking taboos especially of socio-economic caste, were described with a gleaming grin that just screamed Wipe Me Off This Face.  

The gods have duly delivered, and the private jet, gwailo bodyguards and sprawling palaces have crumpled to dust. The simple Chan family, moon-faced with bewilderment, face vengeance beyond their capacity to measure, and that’s before we even count Tony/Peter’s astronomical tax bill.

The CK Mak/KM Tsang case is at the other end of the scale. Whereas Tony Chan was an upstart blundering into the loopier fringes of the Big Lychee’s high society, these two guys were born to serve the community by ruling over it, going by the colonial book, not taking any risks or having new ideas, ensuring the smooth and efficient administration of the city in the finest traditions of the world’s most brilliant, infallible and modest civil service.

Their alleged crime is – inevitably – one of paperwork and property. They bought an apartment each and then rented them to each other to qualify for government housing allowances. By way of mitigation, we could plead that the loophole was so glaring it looked almost legit; legions of other public-sector staff apparently did it; this was in the days before civil servants became as grotesquely overpaid as they were by the late 1990s; and by some accounts, more flexible housing arrangements in the private sector induced otherwise decent bureaucrats into a sense of entitlement. Oh, and the whole thing came to light within days of CK Mak’s appointment as Chief Executive CY Leung’s Development Secretary – raising the distinct possibility that the revelation was a time-bomb set off by supporters of the Donald Tsang/Henry Tang/tycoon/bureaucracy establishment.

Looking around, do we see any fellow members of the audience musing over these things, and wondering whether the system should go easy on the perpetrators of this rather lame HK$700,000 mishap?

Nope.

Oh, there are one or two right over there in the corner who seem to be muttering a bit of sympathy: really, be honest – who wouldn’t have done the same thing in their position, know what I mean, right?

Can I be the first to suggest that any serving or former public servants who defend these two on grounds either practical or principled probably took advantage of the scam themselves? I can? Cool.

Vivid comic tragedy and sober parable – a nice balance. Let the entertainment commence.

While we’re on the topic, following some mention of Elsie Tu’s part in a long-ago mystery about a cop who somehow shot himself with five rounds, these two guys… 

…were last seen trying to raise financing for the movie.

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13 Responses to Enjoy Yourself Tonight

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Rule No. 1: Whatever you do, don’t get caught.

  2. I disagree. The civil servants’ tale is more interesting. They are heroes. Preventing Government money from falling into the hands of horrible landlords: ten thousand from the poor box and a new suit each.

    Life is great when you give up hope. It’s even better when you give up real estate.

  3. The civil servants are heroes. They prevented even more Government money going into the hands of greedy landlords. Ten thousand from the poor box and a new suit each.

    Life is wonderful when you give up hope. It’s even better when you give up real estate

  4. You can use either. The first one is the best. I’m baffled today.

  5. Stephen says:

    As we all know these two cases are just warm up acts for next year’s blockbuster Raffy Hui, Tommy and Ray Kwok vs. The fading independence of the DOJ.

    This blockbuster, timed right, could produce some lovely titbits about Government / Tycoon collusion just as Occupy Central is getting into full swing.

    Let’s hope the foreign press turn up to report proceedings as I can’t see Tobacco Charles (as this could suck in his mate Donald even though he’s exempt from prosecution) or Robert Kuok (under CCP orders) reporting this one as salaciously as we would like …

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    I must say I feel no sympathy whatsoever for T Chan esq, especially because I paid my taxes and he didn’t (and now some of my f*******g tax money has to be spent nailing the bugger instead of being spent on better things like helping the aged and healing the sick)

    I wish HK would introduce caning like in S’Pore, and that we – the public – could vote on who gets caned and how many lashes.

    As the old Aussie/Kiwi joke goes : if I had two wishes I would wish that

    a) I get 10,000 lashes

    b) T Chan is strapped onto my back

    But I do feel somewhat sorry for Messrs Mak and Tsang.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Stephen

    Ah yes.. THE big one we have all been waiting for

    🙂

    Something to look forward to in 2014 . Will Raffy split on the Kuoks or vice versa ? ( Will their prison cells be measured according to REDA’s wishful standards or transparent plastic bags ? )

    Now I AM happy to have some of my tax $ spent on that trial. Wish I could be selected for the jury.

    (Why on earth did we give up confession by torture after the middle ages and the inquisition ? It needs no expensive London silks, and it’s far more entertaining . Thumbscrews are cheap)

    Sorry – but mention of T Chan brings out the worst side of me.

  8. Property Developer says:

    So, since CK Mak has already been found guilty in the court of (a rather restricted portion of) public opinion, CY Leung demonstrated serious misjudgement, and pehaps lack of integrity, in appointing him to a powerful position?

  9. Jeff says:

    Chan is an unbelievable idiot. The guy had already sucked about 500 million out of Nina, and instead of quietly getting on a first class flight and disappearing forever to the Mediterranean, he goes for 10 billion, as though he’s running General Electric and needs to upgrade capital works worldwide, or something.

    I want my con men intelligent, and knowing when the party’s over.

    What a muppet the man is.

  10. Jeff says:

    The much larger question is: How the hell was a woman who could not recognize Chan for was he was, controlling a fortune of tens of billions?

    I’ve no problem with deserved and humble wealth, but my goodness: Honkers. Never has there been a city where so many have so much, who deserve it not at all.

    At least the locals are starting to notice. Good on them.

  11. pcatbar says:

    T/P Chan’s story should one day make an interesting movie/book and/or psychological study. Rarely can a minor con man with limited, (to say the least) faculties have garnered so much wealth without commiting a crime only to lose it all and more so promptly. If he forged the will then his error in seeking to enforce it is truly staggering. In the unlikely event he did not then his conduct was still ill advised despite, (or perhaps because of) all those expensive lawyers who were ‘helping’ him.

  12. Sir Crispin says:

    Maybe Tony Chan should have studied karma, instead of feng shui.

    On another note, I think people at RTHK could use a lesson in politically correct (or at least less offensive) terminology: “mentally retarded babies”

  13. Property Developer says:

    Jeff, Two good points. HK people largely deserve what they/we get, because the present imbroglios are mainly due to their selfishness and lack of awareness in the past, with Nina and Tony exemplary cases.

    This is what annoys me intensely about eg Alex Lo and that flighty woman teacher on the back page who not only comments on social issues but even political ones: combining the worst of American fresh-of-the-boat naivety and pan-Chinese uber-alles nationalism to produce ridiculously superficial commentaries on HK without any understanding of how we got here.

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