Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Who dares wins, or what inspired the City Telecom chairman
One of the many curiosities of life is that the best ideas do not always rise naturally to the top and the 'best' people do not rise 'naturally' into the upper echelons of leadership. Even the best scientific ideas do not necessarily advance as you might expect. The reasons for this were spelt out in Thomas S. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions as early as 1962 and no doubt by others before and since. Good ideas necessarily have to be mediated through human beings who are frequently caught up in the maelstrom of ego, money, sex and goodness what else. That is why interesting ideas are often associated with charismatic figures. Where would structuralism be without Claude Levi-Strauss or dialectical materialism without Karl Marx? Where are we going with this? Well these are just apres-lunch musings after hearing that City Telecom chairman Ricky Wong Wai Kay was inspired by a book called Justice, by Michael J. Sandel, to do 'daring things' in his life, like selling his 'baby', the telecom assets of City Telecom. A glance at Amazon's website says the book delves into issues such as 'our obligations to others as people in a free society? Should government tax the rich to help the poor? Is the free market fair? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Is killing sometimes morally required? Is it possible, or desirable, to legislate morality? Do individual rights and the common good conflict?' Supposing he had picked up another book and been impressed with that? One should never underestimate the power of the irrational in business.
Decision time for Raymond
It's going to be interesting to see if Sun Hung Kai Properties joint chairman Raymond Kwok Ping-luen will persevere with his desire to continue as a member of the general committee of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. He is one of six committee members required to retire this year and has indicated he wants to stand for re-election. Given his high-profile involvement with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, some might think that he might want to lie low for a while. But then again, there is no knowing where this case is going to end up. As our colleague Jake Van Der Kamp opined yesterday, Raymond, along with the other two arrested in the case, have not been charged and now 'sources' are saying this is a 'highly complex' case and more time is needed. So despite having their collar felt by the ICAC, we have to assume they are innocent until proven guilty. Kwok has until April 30 to make up his mind. The annual general meeting is on May 24.
Oxford's five-star student
We have been following the Bo Xilai story from a distance. But we note with interest Malcolm Moore's lurid piece in The Daily Telegraph in which he notes that Bo's son Guagua was sent to Harrow and Oxford University. 'His contemporaries remember him as living a life of utmost privilege, a boy who was 'very ambitious and keen to please in a slightly naive way'. After only being at the university for a term, he had won the Oxford Union - the university's debating society - a ?20,000 (HK$246,000) sponsorship deal from Brilliance Auto, a Chinese car company. 'He was subsequently asked to leave his rooms at his college for endlessly smoking a shisha pipe, and moved into a suite at the Randolph Hotel,' he writes. Assuming he was in one of their cheapest rooms, this would have set him back something like ?35,000 for the six months of the year the university was in session. This would have been roughly 10 times his father's official salary of 60,000 yuan a year. Lucky he has a rich mother.
A rather extravagant affair
Deng Xiaoping is widely believed to have said at some point during his illustrious career that 'to get rich is glorious'. True or not, it is hard to believe he would have approved of the scale of the opulence on show at the wedding staged by Xing Libin, a coal mine boss from Shanxi province. He is chairman of the Liansheng Group and the richest man in Liulin County. He apparently forked out 70 million yuan (HK$85.9 million) for his daughter's wedding at Sanya, Hainan Island. To cater for the guests, he booked out Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Hilton Hotel, according to the website China Whisper. Three planes were leased to fly in the guests and numerous stars who performed. The bride's dowry reportedly was six Ferraris. Let's hope the marriage lasts.
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