Unfinished business

Hong Kong wakes to find on its doorstep steaming piles of ordure left over from the era of ex-Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

The least offensive bit of ooze comes in the form of Timothy Tong, former head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, who lavished himself and an endless parade of Mainland officials with not-very-pricy – and inevitably trashy – jaunts, meals and gifts on departmental expenses. For our amusement, the Legislative Council established a select committee to put him on the rack over these high crimes, misdemeanours and ‘bestowal and receipt of gifts’. Google ‘Timothy Tong’ and ‘maotai’, and you get 22,600 hits in English alone.

He has seemed genuinely surprised to hear lawmakers and others suggest that he wasn’t supposed to use public money this way, and seems defiant to the last, arguing that the culture of Mainland officialdom required him to hand out booze everywhere and go on duty visits to dreary tourist attractions. (A full itemized list of every glass of wine, every ‘Hong Kong scenery crystal ornament’ and every chill-out session with the Vice Mayor of Guilin City – and much, much more – is here. Enjoy.)

And what advantages did he receive in return for handing out and accepting all these barely desirable freebies? He did get appointed at the beginning of this year to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – a symbolic body of retired loyalists, shoe-shiners and waverers-who-need-to-be-flattered – but he can’t be that sad. As Thomas Moore said about being offered the post of Attorney General in a windswept principality: “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?”

Alongside that we have a rather more serious lump of noisomeness in the form of Lisa ‘Tang’s wife’ Kuo, who gets fined HK$110,000 for her illicit luxury basement in Kowloon Tong. Those of us with illegal structures will be delighted to note that the usual penalty is a tiny fraction of this sum. But this is more serious than that because genuine skullduggery was afoot here. Unless these things happen by accident, someone deliberately revealed the existence of these unauthorized building works to scupper Henry Tang’s chances of becoming Chief Executive.

Opposition politicians have focused on the arrogance of the rich who think they are above the law, while the media were intrigued by the basement’s wine cellar and other amenities; few want to delve into the murk concerning who leaked, and why. We do know that the construction work would have required fleets of rather noticeable trucks, and that Beijing’s local emissaries had an office just across the road from chez Tang, and we can guess that the Big Lychee is not insulated from power struggles and factionalism within Chinese officialdom. We can only speculate about what life would be like today if CY Leung had come second in the CE quasi-election in early 2012.

People who think that things could only have been better if rule by Donald Tsang’s tycoon-bureaucrat ‘elite’ had continued in full might like to consider the biggest bit of slime in this morning’s fetid heap: Rafael Hui. The ultimate smooth, smug, career civil servant, accused of accepting bribes from property tycoons, has been declared bankrupt. No crystal scenery ornaments or freebies in Guilin, here – this is how the pros do it. As well as allegedly pocketing backhanders worth millions in cash and in kind, Rafael somehow racked up huge debts, which are of course strictly confidential, and apparently total some HK$75 million, with HK$60 million from Bank of East Asia, a precise HK$9.84 million from Chong Hing Bank, and so on.

Intriguing questions for our ever-inquisitive media to overlook… Why did these (mostly family-run) institutions lend him such sums? What role did hobnobbing with billionaires play in warping an upper-middle-class functionary’s morals? (Maybe Donald can help here.) And most of all, what the hell did he do with it all? Has it evaporated into thin air?

As a bankrupt, he must now live frugally while waiting for that court case – which, for our entertainment, perhaps, he will fight with the help of some failure of a barrister needing legal aid work. So we can expect to see him riding the tram, living in a 300-square-foot box in the New Territories and rummaging through the supermarket’s passed-sell-by-date fruit and vegetables, while pondering their gradual descent into rottenness.


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21 Responses to Unfinished business

  1. Failed Alchemist says:

    If only justice (or the Chinese “heaven has eyes”) could be meted out as per your last character. Life will go on.. the old chappies club will still shout a meal or two for old time sake or to keep the old bugger quiet.

    As for the hideous amount for an illegal structure, its only sufficient to buy 2 bottles in the old boy’s collection.

    In some countries, they dispense honorific titles like candy. It looks like these appointments to the long sounding names hold similar respect – the once sought JP on the car license plate.

    And lastly, the master of all hasn’t been seen about town. Maybe, unknown to us & dear Jimmy Apple, the guy has sneaked off to his apartment in SZ. The deal finally went through.

    The Big Lychee’s only hope is a fly swatter.

  2. PCC says:

    Please forgive the picking of a nit: methinks it should be More.

  3. Grog says:

    I get 3.4 million results on the Google search for Timothy Tong and the Maotais, which would be a good name for a rhythm and groove band.

  4. Bob Woodward says:

    The media has bought the whitewash by LEGCO over the ICAC malpractice. The plan is to allow TONG to take the blame, whilst all those who facilitated and colluded with him in ICAC get to walk away blameless. That TONG is culpable is evident, but why did no one in ICAC raise a hue and cry when he diverted funds for his drinking parties. If people in ICAC don’t have the moral courage to stand up against such behavior, what chance does Hong Kong have?

  5. Tim Tong & the Tais says:

    I am not entirely up-to-date on the Raf Hui story.

    Has he actually been accused of corruption ?

  6. phonus balonus says:

    @Tim Tong and the Tais. Welcome back. How was your trip to mars?

  7. colonelkurtz says:

    If you’ve ever been to the ICAC cafeteria, you’d never think their knees ups are worth a Legco inquiry. Just sounds like Tong went on a few too many silly provincial tours and attached sight seeing trips. Suggests he wasnt’ very interested in the more serious aspects of his job, but hardly serious iniquity in public office. All the attention Tong attracted should’ve been focussed on Hui. There’s precious little in the news about what he’s specifically accused of doing.

  8. gweiloeye says:

    What seems to be missing in this enquiry is why are ICAC schmoozing with mainland officials at all.

    Unless I am mistaken ICAC investigate corruption in Hong Kong without political interference. I think there is more to this other than one public servant on the gravy train.. Sounds more like wholesale Chinese interference in Hong Kong and the ICAC processes. One more cut in the death of Hong Kong by a thousand.

    And in other really shocking news – gweilo gets ripped off at Chinese restaurant in TST. Thanks subStandard and Mr fffffffitzRRRoy for the laugh of the day.

  9. Big Al says:

    The big question is what the hell did Raffie do with the HKD 75M+? How could you possibly blow that much money in such a short space of time?According to the media reports, much of this is on credit cards. What the hell was he buying? Apple products? Let’s not forget that as the No. 2 civil servant, he was raking in squillions a year in salary and air-conditioning allowances. I think we should be told! Still, not so smug now, is he?

  10. Stephen says:

    Just sixteen and a half years since we were connected on to one of the most corrupt Government’s in the world let’s look at the scorecard;

    Former Head of the ICAC not realising that as head of the anti-graft body it might have been sensible not to go extracurricular jaunts around China or insist on buying every Mandarin speaking person, you met, a pint (Maotai) and charge the taxpayer;

    The wife of the man who would be king (if he wasn’t so stupid) knowingly (Did he ?) buildia large illegal structure thus defrauding the same Government (and taxpayers) her Husband sought to lead;

    Rafael Hui, The Ex-Chief Secretary no less, which of course we can’t talk too much about because it involves the Sun Hung Kai Properties – do you know how many advertising dollars they throw around town ?

    And let us not forget Donald, the pious Catholic, who unfortunately can’t be charged. But nevertheless had no qualms about hitching rides on Tobacco Charles yacht, using other tycoons jets for his excursions, always insisted on staying in the presidential suite, arranged a sweetheart rent on a Shenzhen mansion with another tycoon etc …

    It’s piss poor and lets not pretend anymore that we have clean governance anymore.

  11. reductio says:

    The Rafael Hui story has a Peter (aka Tony) Chan vibe, don’t you think? Someone who if he’d been less greedy could have been living the life of Riley and no-one would have been the wiser. Maybe it’s because they like the feeling of superiority over the little people or they believe that they are invincible. Why do they need so much dough? What can you do with it? (Maybe I’ve lived in the NT too long.)

  12. Ex Tax Payer says:

    The last line of the HK Standard article said :
    “Tong is currently attending an international conference on corruption”
    I wonder if he is attending as the subject of a case study.

    Meanwhile, back to the Hui-man … you hit the nail on the head, Hemmers. Where the hell did all the money go, and why on earth did these banks lend him so much in the first place without any collateral ?

    By the way, when I checked the SCMP on-line last night I found that if you comment about Rafael Hui it comes out as Rafael *** so obviously his name is already a f-word. And today the SCMP comments function on the R. *** bankruptcy case is completely blocked. Seems he’s such a disgrace to HK that he’s even been disowned even by the press.
    Would someone kindly lend him a gun with one bullet?

  13. PHT says:

    I find the question of who is blowing the whistle on these arrogant idiots to be the most interesting aspect of all these stories. It seems that there really are no secrets in the BL.

  14. Sid says:

    On yesterday’s news: I think I read somewhere that Time reported that the Americans have got bases on two of the Senkakus. If so, the Chinese airspace move is totally crazy.

  15. phonus balonus says:

    I believe rafael like a flutter…..

  16. Incredulous says:

    @gweiloeye Is this guy’s name really “ffitzRoy”. He should be convicted for having a stupid name!

  17. Regislea says:

    “I may be bankrupt, but I’m not poor.”

    Can’t remember who said that but it still seems relevant.

  18. No Longer at Home says:

    Got to admit I can sort of see tongs point at the ICAC its the kind of entertaining and silly gifts that seem to be in line with the job and there is no real stink of corruption here, in fact there seems to be no smell of corruption at all.

    Lisa tang of course has been fined 100,000 for what is effectively defrauding the government of a vast amount of land tax – I suspect had I carried out that fraud I would be looking at many years inside. I suspect that she got off so lightly as everyone knew she was a patsy for her husband.

    Rafael Hui – wow corruption at the very top and more to come when the Sun Hung Kai story comes out in court but this is the biggie and is there more to say about other members of the administration, hard to think this would be only happening with one individual at the top.

  19. Joe Blow says:

    Does the fact that Raffie got caught show that the policy of vastly over-paying our civil servants as a way of warding off corruption has failed in a most devastating way ?

  20. ffitzHui says:

    “In his limited spare time James pursues a number of charitable initiatives in addition to keeping fit and healthy. James enjoys literature, theatre, opera, history and exploring new cultures. He is also a key mentor to our in-house team.”

    And suing restaurants over $6.00. Potentially a charitable use of limited spare time? Hard to say.

    Wonder who the “female guest” was?

  21. Re the link: you’ve used that song before, in the same context.

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