SCMP February 5 2008
Fawning elite fall at the feet of Stanley Ho
Incestuous, self-regarding and smug, the Hong Kong elite seems not
to have the faintest idea of how it must look to the outside world.
That is a world where there is real competition for political power,
where oligopolies are not the norm and where the billion-dollar deals
between bureaucrats and businessmen are subject to closer public scrutiny.
I refer, in this instance, firstly to the full-page advertisement
which recently appeared in this and other newspapers. It read: 'Congratulations
to Dr Stanley Ho on the award of Grand Lotus medal of Honour by Macau
The A to Z of roughly 200 names of individuals, companies, associations
and (yes) charities who presumably paid for, as well as signed, this
message began, fittingly, with Sir David Akers-Jones and ended with
Mr Ho's very own Sociedade de Turismo e Divers?es de Macau.
It included such pillars of the business establishment as David Li
Kwok-po, Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, Lee Shau-kee, Tung Chee-chen and Vincent
Lo Hong-sui, corporate has-beens such as Henry Keswick, and those former
leading upholders of the law Elsie Leung Oi-sie, Li Kwan-ha and Yang
It should scarcely come as a surprise that Mr Ho gets such an award
But what is somewhat surprising is the zeal of so many of Hong Kong's
leaders to want to fawn over someone whose personal history, role in
Macau and business associations are well known to almost all of them.
Do these Hong Kong luminaries want it to become more like Macau?
Interesting, too, was the absence from the list of prominent leftists
(if the word still has any meaning) and some well-known names closely
associated with the mainland.
Normally, these days, the old elite and the new aspirants are all
too keen to associate with each other, one lot for protection, the
other for political leverage and social climbing.
Does this absence suggest that the 'patriotic' camp is worried that
the middle class and the masses are increasingly disillusioned with
the entrenched, self-sustaining elite among the bureaucrats and in
It might be nice to think so. But do not expect much from a leftist
camp which knows it can manipulate the elite in order to keep democracy
Just look at the way officials and mainland representatives are grovelling
before the young who have formed themselves into the so-called charity,
the Centum Charitas Foundation, qualification for which appears to
be support for Beijing and Ferrari/Lamborghini/Maserati ownership.Nor
is there much sign of any sense of shame at the top at the blatant
manipulation of bureaucratic power by Chief Executive Donald Tsang
Yam-kuen to entrench the elite.
One may have thought he might be more than a little embarrassed at
having David Li Kwok-po, banker and member of Hong Kong's most influential
family, run his campaign in last year's phony election for chief executive.
He might even have felt some unease when Li become embroiled in allegations
of insider trading in shares of Dow Jones, of which he was a board
member.But no. Now the very same Li - plus his brother, former education
minister Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, and fellow executive council member
Ronald Arculli - are to fund a new radio station.
This, at a time when the government is threatening to dismantle RTHK,
a public-service broadcaster, and closed down Citizens' Radio, a tiny
independent voice which had the temerity to challenge the bureaucratic
In the media business, it seems that he who pays the piper calls the
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