CY mega-scandals erupt again

Paul Chan Feeding Frenzy Number Three (if I’m keeping count correctly) breaks out as Hong Kong reels in horror upon learning that its Secretary for Development’s plans to build more public housing in the New Territories encompass a piece of land his wife bought in 1994 and sold (after her holding somehow turned into a 37.5% stake) to her family last year. In the South China Morning Post’s version, Chan himself originally acquired the land – but who’s quibbling about the details? The key thing is that, in a now-familiar pattern, the story first appears in Apple Daily, and pro-democracy legislators promptly start frothing at the mouth a bit too excessively, demanding that he resign over a conflict of interest.

I am not sure if anyone is accusing the Chans of having had advance knowledge of (then-future) Chief Executive CY Leung’s 2012 housing strategy back in 1994. Assuming they’re not, are they alleging that Chan intervened in the cartographic stage of the planning process and made sure his wife’s land was included in the parcels to be developed? No – otherwise they would say so. So, if they feel the sale of the holding to her family was simply wrong, would they have preferred her to have kept it? What would they have had her do?

Presumably, the answer is: publicly declare the entire interest or other involvement or connection from the very start, cramming so much information and detail down lawmakers’ throats that they choke on it. Chan says he did declare the interest internally in line with standard procedures, which do not publicly disclose spouses’ details.

It all looks like an innocent case of buying 20,000 sq ft of agricultural land ‘for family leisure use’ back in the 1990s, then finding – to your embarrassment after your husband ends up as Development Secretary in 2012 – that its value has gone from HK$350,000 to maybe HK$12 million. It could happen to anyone. Or to be precise, as lawmaker Regina Ip inadvertently suggests in her Standard comments about ExCo members and wealth, it could happen to anyone in a system where too many senior government posts are filled from a tiny pool of people who tend to have more money than brains or judgment.

You don’t need to be too much of a conspiracy theorist to detect the hallmarks of the Henry Tang/tycoon reactionary clique having another go at their nemesis, the CY Leung administration. And just days after renegade pro-CY property mogul Ronnie Chan skewered the previous administration’s fiscal policies.

I stand corrected: this is Paul Chan Mega-Scandal Number Four. The Standard helpfully reminds us of the last three. The paper’s ‘Mary Ma’ editorial cheekily invites Chan to stand his ground; to CY’s detractors – virtually the whole spectrum – his haplessness is a gift that would be sorely missed.

Anti-conspiracy types could point out that the Standard (though not its stable-mate Sing Tao) doesn’t put the Chan saga on its front page. The paper leads with remarkably ugly Brit royal Kate Pipperton or whatever she calls herself, who is doing the human race the immense service of producing another generation carrying the combined DNA of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Meanwhile, something a bit odd turns up in the email in-box…

Either someone with extreme mental health problems has gone to the trouble of creating a cruel parody website purporting to be by Hong Kong’s oldest known Anglophone PR guru, Ted Thomas. Or… this really is the venerable Foreign Correspondents Club denizen’s blog-type platform thing. Complete with cheesy ads in the right-hand column.

As well as pictures of the corporate communications virtuoso meeting mid-20th Century embarrassments like the late, dire UK Prime Minister Edward Heath, you can read the curious claim that Thomas and one Barry Lau are doing a Hollywood movie deal with prisoner Tony Chan, of feng-shui/forged will/Nina Wang fame, “…during a visit to his cell…” needless to say.

I really have no idea, but fortunately don’t care either.

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14 Responses to CY mega-scandals erupt again

  1. Joe Blow says:

    About Ted

    “He made a smooth transition into television when he hosted his own chat shows (Ted Chat) attracting record audiences (an average of 17). At the end of his illustrious career he found himself broke, as journalists and PR guru’s usually are, and made another smooth transition into some old journo fossil’s bank account, which he cleaned out just as smoothly. Apparently this was not Ted’s first smooth move into another person’s cookie jar, but that’s another story eh ! Maybe an idea for one of his next books. Ted writes 6 books a year, all best-sellers”.

  2. Forked Tongue says:

    Ted sometimes pops up on radio doing PR for Allan Zeman, telling people to shut up about noise in Central. He makes himself sound like he’s not on anyone’s payroll. He has done a lot of popping up on the radio in the past, speaking on behalf of vested interests and sounding so objective and reasonable.

    I never trust anyone who doesn’t use his real name in business.

    Best Ted quotation (and headline): “I don’t steal from old ladies”.

  3. Be careful when reading the Ted Thomas blog:

    “Part of the case was that this so-called friend of Clare’s was charging HK$400 an hour ‘chatting fees’ – he was charging her to have a conversation. He agreed to pay the money back in 2007. I would like to know what’s changed since then?”” (Telegraph article above)

    I am happy to say there is never any charge for reading the truly superlative Hong Kong blogs in English.

    “If I were charging full price for my time I would have charged her HK$1,200 an hour,” he said.

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    What, no “Paul Chan – he’s lost the plot” jokes? Seriously? Come on people!

  5. Oik says:

    That’s the problem with political appointees from the private sector – the small group from which they’re chosen have all had their snouts in the property trough for donkeys years. ‘Conflicts of interest’ wherever you look.

    Hemmers you really are an old misery gumps. Is it your contrarian nature, the fact that she’s a commoner or do you just dislike the Royals because you were bullied at school by a posh bloke?

  6. It's a buoy! says:

    The thing about our legislators is that, as someone pointed out here recently, if there ever was universal suffrage, no one would vote for them. So they really are turkeys promoting Christmas (pigs promoting bacon is probably a better analogy).

    And isn’t it time Great Britain had a black monarch?

  7. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Dr Bela clearly thinks the Ted Thomas blog is authentic — and he would be the main suspect if it wasn’t.

    20,000 sq ft “worth” only $350,000? Have you lost a zero or two?

    You’re wise to refrain from both judging whether Paul Chan is guilty and attempting to predict how it will all end. It does seem as if it’s nothing but joined-up grey areas: whether anyone outside the Mid-Levels seriously believes “agricultural land” is not code for prime buildable land with just a nod or a handshake; whether “family” is to be understood in a normal or in a NT-clannish sort of way; whether being potentially left a few score million in your wife’s will (or even by intestate inheritance laws) constitutes a “beneficial interest”; whether, as the sub-Standard says, CY’s administration is so much under water as to be unable to lose another crew member; and how many lines of defence one can get through without being forced to finally admit to wrongdoing.

  8. Worm Flu Patient Zero says:

    Re Britain having a black monarch: We already have one, she’s called Shirley Bassey. I suspect it was her — and not Princess Diana — who was the “Princesse de Cardiff” in the romantic novel penned by former French president Valerie Giscard d’Estaing. The novel strangley tells of an affair between a French president and a princess. Ms Bassey, who was born in Tiger Bay Cardiff, lives in Monaco.

    From Wiki: “Giscard wrote his second romantic novel, published on 1 October 2009 in France, entitled The Princess and The President. It tells the story of a French head of state having a romantic liaison with a character called Patricia, Princess of Cardiff. This fuelled rumours that the piece of fiction was based on a real-life liaison between Giscard and Diana, Princess of Wales.[15] He later stressed that the story was entirely made up and no such affair had happened.[16]

  9. J Hatch says:

    Love that Heath is giving Ted the middle Finger.

    Regarding the royal embarrassments, Tim Curry delivered the child, will baptise it and raise it up to donate half a defective brain, ala Eddie (Meat Loaf) and thus insure it has the proper outlook.

    The motto on the The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha coat of arms isn’t in Latin. It’s actually the native language of Planet Transsexual. (Note Charles’ preference for men in drag.). The correct translation reads: “Incest is best”.

  10. probably says:

    @J Hatch
    As I recollect is it not ‘beastiality is best boys’ to the tune of ‘tie your kangaroo down’, For example constructing a verse incorporating the words ‘load’ and ‘toad’ et al?

  11. probably says:

    And commiseratioms to the UK tax payers for yet another burden albelt not as great as civil service pensions.

  12. Ruff n Ready says:

    Hmm. No one is accusing Paul Chan of having an issue when he bought the land, but when the ownership was transferred to members of his wife’s family AFTER he had knowledge of the proposed development. Much cleaner, and giving rise to fewer suspicions of trading on inside knowledge, would have been to sell that stake OUTSIDE the family and without informing the buyer of the development plans. But I guess that would be too much to ask.

  13. G. Hova says:

    If it was shares he was selling, he would be banged up for insider dealing

  14. “Ted Thomas started writing for newspapers over fifty years ago” says his blog – and most of the photographs included appear to have been taken that long ago. In fact the majority of his celebrity interviewees are long deceased.

    As for “incest is best”, all the royal families of Europe, from Spain across to Russia, have been interbreeding for centuries.

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