Saturday, 30 May 2015

Which Side is the HK Government on?

Hong Kong, a city of the "rich and powerful" and then the rest of us
Last week Stephen Vines, a columnist in the Hong Kong media penned a column questioning the loyalty of the wealthy in the city.

He pointed out that every chief executive has sent their children abroad to study -- which would be considered an outrage in every other country.

Columnist Stephen Vines
"However, in Hong Kong, which has quite decent universities, they are not considered good enough for the scions of the powerful people, who also want to ensure that their children have the kind of familiarity with overseas countries that can lead to the acquisition of citizenship," Vines writes.

Then he says anyone who is rich and powerful in the city has squirreled their money outside of Hong Kong, particularly in places where there is strong rule of law, despite their exhortations that China is very stable, and "we have the word of the mainland's most avid cheerleaders in Hong Kong that its stability is unshakeable".

So why then has so much money been funneled to Macau (up until recently), and that our past and present chief executives have properties in London and the United States?

As a result, Vines concludes, the "next time you are subjected to the protestations of a well-heeled 'loyalist', a reality check may be in order".

Indeed.

But that's not the end of the story.

Why is Andrew Fung defending the wealthy and powerful?
A few days later Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, an information coordinator with the Hong Kong government wrote in to the newspaper to rebut the columnist's claims that the "rich and powerful" may not be that loyal.

Fung says real estate developers are investing heavily in the mainland, much bigger than what they have invested elsewhere. Hello? These developers are investing for a bigger payoff -- and besides this is for company profits and for shareholders. Vines is talking about individuals storing their assets elsewhere but Hong Kong.

To retort Vines' accusation of chief executives buying property outside of the city, Fung writes, "All senior members of the government have refrained from buying and selling properties in Hong Kong to avoid allegations of using insider information."

Has he forgotten about Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, when it was revealed in 2013 that his wife owns three plots of land in Kwu Tung North in the New Territories that could benefit handsomely with the government's plan to develop the area?

Fung saves the best for last. When it comes to chief executives sending their children abroad to study, the government information coordinator claims, "One simple reason is to get away from the press and its paparazzi."

Seriously? That's the best excuse he can come up with?

The Hong Kong government didn't need to respond to this column, which is one man's opinion -- and it shouldn't. But it has and the gaffe is too outrageous to ignore.

The trust meter on the Leung administration has sunk even lower...


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