Barry and Francis, again

The Standard carries a (relatively) in-depth piece on the ‘hidden desperation’ of former Executive Council member and HK Mercantile Exchange founder Barry Cheung. A vast sum of money must have come from somewhere to account for the gap between the HK$1 billion invested in HKMEx and the pocket change generated in revenue. The article points out the exchange’s connections with several Mainland tycoons (notably Wang Nubo, the one who tried to buy a chunk of Iceland) and a couple of Russian billionaires. The guy who had the international development rights for British boarding school Harrow also turns up. A possible implication is that good friends of Barry who have recently been arrested were forging bank guarantees to help keep HKMEx afloat.

A pinch of salt may be in order here. The Standard’s Sing Tao parent group is a pillar of the Hong Kong tycoon milieu that loathes Chief Executive CY Leung and all his works. Along with some other parts of the media, it relishes any chance to inflate the Leung administration’s plentiful but pretty lame supposed scandals (illegal structures; sale of a small portion of a property portfolio ahead of real-estate tax hikes; leasing out of sub-divided apartments; an ancient civil service housing benefits fiddle; and… I think that’s it).

That said, those are everyday stories of Hong Kong property irregularities; HKMEx is different. Would someone who had tirelessly worked his way into the establishment, faced with possible bankruptcy, engage in large-scale criminality in order to rescue a major investment and/or preserve his social standing? On the one hand, we’d like to think the idea is preposterous. On the other hand, such things are daily occurrences just a few miles north of here.

Other instances of alleged corruption in the Big Lychee in recent years, like former CE Donald Tsang’s freebies-from-developers, or even former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui’s dealings with Sun Hung Kai, can be seen as opportunistic and aberrant. But when you combine the hubris, sycophancy and incestuousness of our local self-styled elites with cross-border murkiness, and you get a nasty smell, it begins to look more systemic.

On an infinitely more amusing note, China Daily delivers yet more orchestrated mouth-frothing about the pro-democracy Occupy Central plan. Buses and taxis will have to be cancelled or re-routed, the writer says, therefore “bloodshed will almost certainly happen,” possibly with numerous deaths, as in the London riots of 2011. The Great 2014 Chater Road Number 15 Bus Re-routing Massacre. The usual contrived United Front alarmism, in other words, with the poor author probably not even believing it himself. What is interesting is that one of our friends from yesterday, HK University of Science and Technology economics professor Francis Lui, crops up again.

Yesterday, he was talking nonsense about how a state’s economic reliance on a large hinterland deprives it of autonomy. (Does he realize that he is contradicting Article 2 of the Basic Law?) Today, he is quoted as saying that Central generates one fifth of Hong Kong’s GDP (and God knows how he works that out), therefore Occupy Central will cost the city HK$1.6 billion a day. This is like saying that Hong Kong’s GDP gets reduced by one 365th every time we get a day off courtesy of a Number 8 typhoon signal; it’s economically illiterate. As with the China Daily columnist, we have to wonder whether he really believes what he is saying.

And which would be worse: he does, or he doesn’t? To be stupid is unfortunate; to stand up and knowingly recite gibberish in public to curry favour with power-holders of limited legitimacy is just plain pitiful. I’d be intrigued to know what his students think.

I declare the weekend open with a little oddity from an oldish dictionary…

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9 Responses to Barry and Francis, again

  1. I doubt if any of the pro-CCP/Peking press really believe in what they are writing. Otherwise they wouldn’t sabotage themselves with such regularity.

    Witness today’s SCMP campaign Celebrating Hong Kong with its inbuilt disaster of Aching Bones as judge.

    Shall we nominate each other for this unsung heroes competition? That’s how it’s done in Hong Kong. I won a prize in the SCMP short story competition once and the first thing I heard of it was Ralph Pixton reading it on the radio. I declined the prize as I didn’t want to disguise myself as the purported author of my story, an Indian living in Chung King Mansions called Daswani. It might have been fun though.

    Maybe you will fare better!

  2. Sojourner says:

    Francis T. Lui — “if they pay no regard of social and economic cost, what is the discrepancy between ‘Occupy Central’ campaigners and terrorists?”

    He may be a crap economist, but he’d make an even worse lexicographer.

    “Terrorist — One who pays no regard of social and economic cost”.

    His grammar and vocabulary is equally vile.

  3. Oneleggoalie says:

    Oneleg used to call up Indians (we’d just dial any number and if someone answered…elloo…and bobbled their heads sideways) we’d tell them they’d won a colour TV, in a TV completion…funny coz they would have to collect the thing in Broadcast Drive…funny…there were a few Daswanis, Melwanis, Merchandanis, and of course Sanjivs…funny.

  4. Old Timer says:

    “His grammar and vocabulary is equally vile.”


  5. Local Tax Payer says:

    When you say “in-depth”, I suppose you mean too long and with no visible structure, beyond the one-paragraph-per-sentence illiteracy?

    Also, what about the Lew saga, which has not yet reached the fun stage, when courts are told the most outrageous lies with a straight face?

    But your logic, as usual, is impeccable, and I can only attempt to generalise on your specific ideas. HKers are never caught with more than pecadillos, because they’ve planned it down to plan D and beyond, with networks of small-potato fall guys and foundation-less watery-cement Chinese walls.

    The enforcement agencies have to get people for driving offences/minor building effractions/abusing the maid. And the poor analyst, in such a culture of secrecy and falsification, can only work on suspicion (your bad smells) and hearsay (associating with bad elements). We may never plumb the depths of the murky miasma on which the political establishment tries to stay afloat.

  6. Sojourner says:

    @ Old Timer,

    Okay, I noticed my mistake almost immediately after I clicked the “send” button.

    Thank you ….

  7. Chopped Onions says:

    You’ve answered yesterdays question Hemmers old chap,
    A Carphology of pro Peking shoe shiners………
    carphologia describes the actions of picking or grasping at imaginary objects, This can be a grave symptom in cases of extreme exhaustion or approaching death.

  8. Realist Revenue Receiver says:

    Many Tycoons Have One

  9. Complex pile says:

    And this is how Francis Lui and Pastor Daniel Ng get to know one another – amid attacks from vicious newsmen, students, academics and politicians ( (p. 4)).

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