Lai See

Former 'baddest man on the planet' entertains CLSA

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 3:00am

When the word got around that CLSA had invited former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson to head their keynote speakers at its investment forum, there were a few raised eyebrows. "What, they've invited a convicted rapist - why would they do that?" was not an uncommon reaction, even within CLSA, we hear. But it was riveting stuff. There is always something peculiarly fascinating about heavyweight boxing champions, even for people who don't care for the sport. Muhammad Ali. George Foreman, Joe Louis - these are big, powerful men, and when they punch, they can hit someone with the equivalent of about 1,300 pounds of force, equivalent to about 50 times the force of gravity. Tyson is perhaps even more fascinating. Here's a man whose early life was a blaze of anger, drink, drugs and violence in the ring and out of it.

He sat on stage yesterday and described how he went to hell and back, his highs and lows. At one point, when talking about the tragic death of his four-year-old daughter Exodus, he choked up, and there was a moment when you thought the show was going to implode. But all credit to Edmund Bradley, CLSA's global head of research, who was asking the questions, for keeping the session on track. It was compelling and edgy in that you never quite knew what to expect. Tyson was at times funny, at times heartbreaking, and on occasions he rambled and was hard to understand. At one point, he was asked, since he'd blown US$400 million, if he could share one great story of the fun he had spending that money. There was a pregnant pause as we braced ourselves. But he just grinned and said: "I am just grateful to have had the opportunity to do all that stuff."

But one thing for sure is that he has come a long way from being a hell raiser and "the baddest guy on the planet" and talked of his happiness at being the person he is and the life he leads with his wife and his children, and his Broadway show. He clearly doesn't want to go back to boxing. "I don't want to be the guy I was then. I can't go back to that now that I have a wife and kids to raise." He talked about boxing, women, drink, drugs, changing nappies, being henpecked and religion and was surprisingly entertaining. It was moving to hear his story of how he regained his life. This will be a relief to Jonathan Slone, CLSA's chairman and chief executive, whose idea it was to invite him.

Loh will clear the air

We are pleased to see that Christine Loh has been confirmed as undersecretary for the environment, particularly as it was foretold here about a month ago. Our satisfaction with this appointment is because after more than a decade of inaction on environmental issues, particularly the quality of the air, we believe there is a real chance of some action on this front. We cannot believe Loh accepted this position without some assurances that her efforts would not be blocked. After years of research in this area with the think tank she founded, the Civic Exchange, there is no better person in Hong Kong to take this on. Indeed in a sane political environment, she would be a strong contender for chief executive. Credit to her for taking the step from researching and writing about what should be done to actually trying to put some of her ideas into practice - a rather more difficult matter. But she will also carry a huge weight of expectations. She has been a legislator for eight years and is all too familiar with the vested interests. She will have to contend with bureaucracy. As for the administration she joins, it is surely a no-brainer to crack down on environmental issues.

This is not going to bring thousands of people into the streets and will actually do something to improve the livelihood of people in Hong Kong. For years the city has been a laggard in environmental matters; now it has an opportunity to be where it should be - one of the leading countries in the region in this regard. We wish her good luck.

Island politics

With Sino-Japanese relations at a low ebb, Japan's embassy in Beijing has been trying to downplay politics on its Weibo site. In the past week, most of its content has been about, food, culture and travel, with no mention of the Diaoyu Islands, or the Senkakus, as the Japanese call them. However, this ploy has not deterred Chinese internet users, who respond almost as one to each post with the comment: "The Diaoyu Islands are ours. Return them immediately."


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