Warwick Reid's legal hobby draws attention 'for all the wrong reasons'
HKEye, Week of February 11
World coverage of Hong Kong was relatively slow over the Lunar New Year holiday week -- especially compared with the big news bombshells dropped by North Korea, the Vatican City, Los Angeles and Oscar Pistorius (somebody also delivered a big speech, with few surprises).
Across the Pacific
One New Zealand newspaper was paying attention to Hong Kong, however. The Bay of Plenty Times, which covers an area in the country’s North Island, picked up the Post’s story on disgraced lawyer Warwick Reid and his legal consultation service in his hometown of Tauranga.
Reid, the most senior legal figure to be jailed for corruption in Hong Kong history, told the New Zealand newspaper:
"My days of infamy are over, I hope. Reid Legal is a little hobby thing that has got the attention of the international press for all the wrong reasons."
Reid’s new work has triggered outcry from Hong Kong’s legal community, including one barrister who pointed out that the company’s website makes no mention of Reid’s bribery conviction, incarceration and deportation (a story that movies are made of!). But the New Zealander, 65, said he always told clients about his criminal past and that no one had ever objected.
"I am a million miles removed from that scenario. I was a very senior government servant in a position of power that I admit I abused. I am now representing, at a very low level, people with employment grievances. I am not in the position of taking or receiving bribes. I am using my skills to assist people because the legal aid system lets them down."
At the border
The New York Times’ Rendezvous blog took a look at the troubles brewing in Sheung Shui, an “otherwise unremarkable neighbourhood” that’s the site of protests and clashes. The article is an overview of the rising tensions between Hongkongers and mainland visitors, many of whom are parallel traders buying up infant formula, toiletries and other goods perceived to be “safer”.
Sheung Shui is part of a developing story that carries far more nuance for locals than perhaps an international audience. The article mentions the appearance of Hong Kong’s colonial flag at protests, but doesn’t expand on it. There is more at play besides Beijing-Hong Kong vitriol; a case can be made for Hong Kong identity issues as well. It could be interesting to see how non-local coverage of this story evolves.