Lai See
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 1:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 August, 2014, 1:21am

Clive Palmer apologises for 'insult to Chinese everywhere'

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

Clive Palmer appears to have had a change of heart about his feelings towards the Chinese.

Early last week, readers will recall, he was calling them "bastards" and "mongrels". However, yesterday he was singing a different tune.

He wrote an abject grovelling apology to China's ambassador in Australia: "I most sincerely apologise for any insult to Chinese people caused by any of the language I used during my appearance on the ABC television programme Q&A."

He continued with: "We always must have an open mind, an open mind allows us to put ourselves in the other person's position and bring greater understanding and less conflict to the world."

Palmer said he now realised that what he said was "an insult to Chinese people everywhere and I want to assure them they have my most genuine and sincere apology, that I am sorry that I said the things I said on the programme". He then went on to reference Mao Zedong. "As chairman Mao said in Nanjing when celebrating the 45th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, words to the effect that over 45 years have passed since the 1911 Revolution and China had only sought friendly relations with its neighbours."

All of this seems such a far cry from four years ago when Palmer was criticising Kevin Rudd's government for its "racist" trade policies which he said discriminated against Chinese investors. He called on politicians "to treat the Chinese people and Chinese government with the dignity they deserve".

Things have not been going well for Palmer in his row with Hong Kong-listed Citic Pacific and its Sino Iron project. In 2006, Palmer sold Citic the right to mine magnetite iron ore in the Pilbara region in exchange for royalty payments. Citic agreed to build the infrastructure, but the "deal of the century", as analysts call it, because it heavily favours Palmer, has taken a heavy toll on Citic. The original budget of US$2.5 billion has blown out to about US$10 billion and in the opinion of some could have sunk the company had it not in effect been bailed out by its parent.

The two sides cannot agree on the level of royalties Citic should pay Palmer for the iron ore it is shipping to China so it isn't paying anything until the courts settle the matter, which hurts Palmer because he needs the cash.

Citic has started to squeeze Palmer by accusing him of fraud in diverting A$12 million cash from an account set up to pay for the administration of the port from which Citic ships its iron ore. Palmer denies the charges but the matter is heading for the courts. Perhaps the Chinese squeezed him a bit harder yesterday.

 

Former KPMG employee fined

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants has announced the outcome of a curious case on its website. It has reprimanded and fined Chui Yiu-chung, who used to work for KPMG, HK$20,000 and charged him HK$14,681 in costs, because he was convicted of theft and loitering.

According to information on the institute's website, Chui stole the apartment keys of a female colleague at KPMG who lived several floors above him in the same apartment block.

He made a copy of the keys so he could gain access to her apartment, the documents say.

Chui learned from her Facebook account that she would be away on holiday and attempted to enter the apartment. This he failed to do but in the attempt, he disturbed his colleague's mother who was asleep at the time.

She called the building management who reviewed the CCTV footage showing Chui trying to get into the apartment. He was subsequently reported to the police and was ordered to perform 80 hours community service.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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