Charles and Peter go to Beijing

Charles Ho, the tycoon who owns the Sing Tao and Standard newspapers, gives the world the benefit of his opinion on why former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau was chopped half to death in the street last week. It is wrong, he insists, to say politics played a part, as triads don’t carry out such attacks for political reasons. Lau, says Ho, ‘knows why he was attacked’.

The innuendo is that the assault was unrelated to Lau’s position in the media and instead connected with the sort of shady underworld activity that does lead tattooed gang-members to get out the excrement-smeared meat cleavers. Testing loan-sharks’ patience to the limit, for example, or intruding on some crime ring’s turf.

The fact is that we have no way of knowing. There is no evidence that Lau moved in mafia-type circles (though it is a hazy milieu, which overlaps into all sorts of respectable-ish areas and touches a suprising assortment of people). We do know that the sub-species who carry out contract hits do it for the money, and generally don’t care or even know what the disagreement is about or who is paying. We also know that under Lau’s editorship, Ming Pao helped expose things that powerful people wanted hidden, like the extensive wealth accumulated by the families of the Chinese leadership.

It is hard to imagine former Premier Wen Jiabao sitting with some scar-faced brute in an alleyway dai pai dong in Mongkok, arranging the near-fatal ambush. But there are demented, ultra-patriotic hangers-on and second-guessers who, of their own volition, might have a word with someone who knows someone, possibly for personal satisfaction or to impress some other party for some reason. Rather like Charles Ho, who no doubt hopes and trusts that important figures will note with approval his claim – in effect – that pro-Beijing elements would never stoop to criminal violence to silence political opposition.

Ho is currently in the nation’s capital for the annual ‘two meetings’ of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress. They should probably call it the Chinese Tycoons’ Political Consultative Blah-Blah, because it seems to be a club for the rich. Indeed, for the children of the rich. Along with Ho – scion of a tobacco empire – on the CPPCC are Li Ka-shing’s son Victor and Lee Shau-kee’s son Peter. (Fellow members include multi-millionaire basketball mutant Yao Ming and other business and entertainment stars. I suppose Communists in the era of socialism-with-Chinese-characteristics imagine that the masses will find such blatant plutocratic symbolism really cool.)

Peter Lee is best known for doing what all number-one sons must do, and that is present his father with male heirs. Only Peter isn’t married, so he acquired triplet boys via some sort of mail order (male order?) sperm-receptacle baby-factory service. Old man Lee was so pleased, he showed the trio off to the world as if it were perfectly normal. (One of those cosmic common threads just struck me… Charles Ho blithely saying the knife attack was non-political, the Chinese Communist state wrapping itself in billionaires, and old man Lee with his motherless, paid-for grandsons: it’s the pure oblivious shamelessness of it all.)

At a CPPCC sideshow, Peter declares that Hong Kong needs a new opinion poll organization, as the surveys conducted by Hong Kong U give the impression that the public is unhappy; the polls are therefore obviously biased, and right-thinking business groups in the Big Lychee should do something, ‘the quicker the better’.

CPPCC membership is a sort of pat on the head, and the chance to make a suggestion (…Political Consultative etc, right?) is part of the deal. No-one expects anything to happen; indeed, if Hong Kong businesses want to set up a new polling organization, why are you telling NPC Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang about it? This wouldn’t have been composed for Peter by Beijing’s local officials, who have more important things to do, and would sound less dim-witted. But nor would it have been off-the-cuff. Having been invited to stand up and deliver a ‘suggestion’, he would have scrabbled around for one and bounced it off a kindly uncle – former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa helps preside – and then read it out, all by himself. (Tung of course had his own run-in with the HKU polls.)

Charles Ho’s shoe-shining Standard praises the boy Peter’s ‘eloquent’ (presumably they mean ‘fluent’) Putonghua. The substance of his ‘suggestion’ goes beyond shamelessness into the realm of cluelessness. Indeed, it’s cluelessness squared: being clueless about the fact that you’re coming across as clueless. Don’t like the opinion poll results – get new opinion polls. Let’s hope that for Peter’s sake, if only as a devout Buddhist, no-one gets the wrong idea about his reference to polling-master Robert Chung by name and helpfully sends a couple of knife-wielding gangsters round to HKU to sort the problem out.

The CPPCC-NPC sessions continue in their stultifying tediousness until the middle of next week.

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14 Responses to Charles and Peter go to Beijing

  1. Ex Tax Payer says:

    Just when we thought life was getting boring with another of John Tsang’s doom, gloom and no-more-boom budget pronouncements….

    …Can’t wait for the Raffy Hui / SHK mogul trial. But pity it will cost the taxpayers several tens of millions for London Silks and will go through so many layers of appeal that the culprits will be on their death beds before they ever end up in clink ( unlike Carson Yeung ! )

  2. maugrim says:

    I don’t want to go all sho-shiney, but I have to say that each day there are invariably gems contained within a post that are canny insights into the beast that is HK that should be required reading in HK101 courses at all fair-minded Universities. Today’s example is this:

    (though it is a hazy milieu, which overlaps into all sorts of respectable-ish areas and touches a suprising assortment of people)

    This is very true. From minibus routes, to a range of ‘legitimate’ and in some occasions, well known busineses, the triad/non-triad demarcation line is at best a hazy one where ‘august community representatives’ may or may not have interesting backgrounds. As to the chopping, what is plausible is someone, a local Central Government toady, taking both umbrage and action on behalf of Northern masters, quite possibly without consent.

  3. Sir Crispin IV says:

    “The substance of his ‘suggestion’ goes beyond shamelessness into the realm of cluelessness. Indeed, it’s cluelessness squared: being clueless about the fact that you’re coming across as clueless.”

    It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect, too incompetent to know you are incompetent:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

  4. Big Al says:

    Just checked out the Dunning–Kruger effect on the fountain of all knowledge: “inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude”. Absolutely perfect description of the current administration (and half of our uncivil servants). “Do you suffer from Dunning–Kruger syndrome?” must be Question 1 (and possibly the only question) on the government job application form. Any affirmative response and you’re in!

  5. Ex Tax Payer says:

    This leads to one of those impossible civil service entrance questions :

    “Do you understand that you are completely clueless about everything ?”

    (Do not attempt to write on both sides of the answer sheet at the same time )

  6. Stephen says:

    Similar to the Dunning-Kruger effect, to my tiny mind, is the inability of the privileged to know when to shut the fuck up. Li Ka Shing is showing signs of being in recovery by cancelling last year’s press briefing, after his AGM, thus saving us from again listening to his tiresome sermon. For years when he spoke, we listened, now he realizes that ship has sailed. Not so Tobacco Charles and Pete Lee.

    Does the average Joe in Hong Kong, after listening to these two silver spoon fed multi-millionaires spout their wisdom, say “ That Pete Lee is spot on, were not unhappy with our lot it’s just that Robert Li keeps rigging the polls”? Or “Chucky’s right Kevin Lau was probably chopped by a deranged paper boy as we are all perfectly happy with the Government consultation on political reform and fully trust them to implement true democracy”?

  7. Andanotherthing says:

    Now if we can just couple the Dunning-Kruger effect with a touch of ‘akrasia’ then that should just about summarize Hong Kong’s plight!

  8. Oneleggoalie says:

    The party that gives a rather “specific” order of knife attack is usually quite certain of undetectable culpability…if there was any risk of proof they would have chosen a good beating…like Fat Albert’s…

    Such a nasty action suggests monetary differences…if indeed it was a local decision.

  9. The Joker says:

    Unless there is something else to brighten up today besides Ho and Lee wofflings it’s worth repeating an old medical joke :

    Two medical students watched a very bandy legged man walking awkwardly towards them.

    They discussed what disease the old man was suffering from . One student though it was the Dunning-Kruger effect, while the other student thought it was the Kruger – Dunning effect (with a touch of ‘akrasia’ )

    So they asked tho old man.

    He said :

    “You thought it was the Dunning-Kruger effect, but you are wrong”.

    “And you thought it was the Kruger-Dunning effect but you are also wrong”

    “I thought it was just a fart but I was wrong as well”

  10. gweiloeye says:

    Obviously Charlie has never looked up about the subject of Triad and Political connections:

    2009: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=4bf21cac-4ab4-4ac9-ae34-0b1a787249d9

    1998: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/chinese-rule-boosts-hong-kong-triads-1151782.html

    Also do I not recall recently the Kuk holding some protest in NT where some “known individuals” were supporting them. And also not forgetting Loving Caring something something Hong Kong having a few special people in support of them during protests against the Falun Gong loons.

  11. nulle says:

    according to apple daily, li ka-shing thinks CY Leung and his entire administration is incompetent morons and should just shut up. He think in HK who should speak up remain silent.

  12. Being in the tobacco business, Charles Ho must be an expert on killing people.

  13. Incognito says:

    My father was once research director of one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world.

    True.

    He was a world expert in smoking and health – or rather the bad effect of smoking on health. Also true

    To his dying day he was visited twice yearly by a lawyer employed by his previous tobacco – company employer to make sure he kept his “secrets to the grave ”

    Which he did. Also also true.

    All hail Charles Ho – killer of millions ( and best in-the-know adviser – so it seems – as to why Kevin Lau was chopped)

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