Mar 08, 2012|
Had Sir David Tang offered the chief executive of Hong Kong a trip to London on his private jet, where they were scheduled to meet with Johnny Depp, who had flown in from Los Angeles for a private screening of the movie “Hugo,” which was also attended by Price William, before they then took off for a cabernet sauvignon tasting at a wine workshop in Provence, where had bumped into Nicolas Sarkozy who was also on a weekend break there, and the entourage declined the French president’s invitation to his villa because of their tight itinerary—if all of this had happened, then Sir Donald Tsang would have escaped the ICAC storm that might bring him down, much like the fate of Taiwanese ex-president Chen Shui-bian.
Former colonial governors befriended the Jardine tycoons, or had no qualms about claiming to be a frequent guest at the garden parties of the Hotung family, as it is the company, taste, and geography of the offense that makes all the difference.
The acceptance of a four-day private jet trip to Phuket offered by a Chongqing nouveau-riche property billionaire, which actually happened, simply does not arouse the kind of imagination as the fictional itinerary and entourage listed above. Foot massages might have been included on the flight. Extraordinarily young and pretty air stewardesses could have been carefully selected to join a karaoke session during the journey. And Phuket, while also a beach holiday destination favored by many western backpackers, is more popular for teenage prostitution and transsexual shows at night. It is highly unlikely that the chief executive finished reading a book by Richard Dawkins on his trip and had an intellectual conversation on Darwinism and creationism with his big-spender friend during the flight.
And leasing a luxury penthouse in Shenzhen, owned by another Chinese businessman, is helping to get him out of the mud. Had he told the legislature that he had planned to live in retirement as a hermit in a Majorca villa, to follow in the footsteps of Robert Graves, his favorite post-war English poet, the name-dropping would have left his fiercest critics gaping with ignorance.
Oh yes, imagine that the villa was a gift by a mysterious Swedish billionaire whom the chief executive met at a cocktail party after the world economic forum in Davos. His name could not be disclosed, but the chief executive could let the public know that they share a keen interest in Impressionist paintings, especially Gauguin, so he had even promised to secure a place at Yale for the chief executive’s three-year-old grandson after a private-jet trip to Tahiti. These are blatant perks extended only to a very select few on both sides of the Atlantic, so this would be an achievement that the chief executive, together with all people of Hong Kong, could be proud of.
He could have pulled off these petty scandals (well, petty compared with the government leaders up in the north). But alas, it is not a matter of greed for perks, but of breed of pals and taste.
Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.