• Thu
  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 8:11am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 3:23am

Time for Cathay to come clean on junket

Something strikes me in a complaint letter sent to us courtesy of Cathay Pacific's corporate affairs chief, Chitty Cheung.

"For many years," Cheung wrote, "It has been Cathay Pacific's practice to invite guests to events such as aircraft delivery trips and new destination launches."

Now that's the story we seem to be missing, because we still don't know much about those lavish junkets, sorry, I mean business trips. Readers need to have a better understanding of how far they date back, how frequent and costly they have been and who was on previous trips. My guess is that past sponsored travellers would be a who's who in Hong Kong.

I suspect the reason no one anticipated the furore over the trip to France is because such trips have been, as Cheung implied, common and nothing out of the ordinary for Cathay. That may be why the 10 holidaymaking lawmakers and an Executive Council member, Cheng Yiu-tong, felt hard done by.

Of course, things are supposed to be business as usual - until it is not.

In the letter, Cheung said the trip was not a junket because that implied "an extravagant celebration that had no clear purpose other than to entertain". No doubt in Cheung's exalted business circles, two business-class round-trip tickets to France - the lawmakers had either a spouse or a child with them - costing north of HK$100,000 and an extended stay in a luxury hotel don't count as extravagant. To a guy like me, that qualifies as the trip of a lifetime.

Cheung said it was really a business trip to inform because "aviation is an important industry in Hong Kong that employs thousands of people and is a pillar of the local economy". You got that right. It's precisely because of the importance of national airlines - and CX is Hong Kong's equivalent - that they are almost always heavily regulated. Hong Kong's aviation industry is no exception.

The reverse of regulation is sometimes called "regulatory capture", the co-opting of regulators and people with policy influence through usually legitimate or legal means to manipulate regulatory outcomes. That line must not be crossed, otherwise it's called corruption.

Now is not the time for Cathay to be angry with the media, but to re-examine its practice.

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41

This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
If what SHK and Mr Rafael H u i did is true, their cases should certainly not be dropped.
Prosecute to the full extent of the law
mercedes2233
"All cases of collusion"? Since when and to include whom? Are Donald Tsang and Rafael **** and Sun Hung Kei to be exonerated forthwith?
pslhk
Copy of comment for Frank C’s column
-
You’re less than right
for if truth be known
an overwhelming majority
could be "pro-establishment"
-
That’s why many enjoy strolling the gauntlet
of scmp comments and tag dance
among toothless howling wolves *
that flock around the city’s english newspaper
-
However, to borrow whymak’s remark:
the wise won't follow the fool’s agenda
-
* Don't confess being thw by which I DON'T mean you
-
THW are those witless fools who
incapable of responding to arguments
turn to focus on commentator the person
seeking comfort in silly conjectures
impala
The most astonishing thing about the whole story is that there exists an actual person named Chitty.

♫ We love you. ♪ Our fine four fendered friend. ♫
♫ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ♪
dynamco
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chitty
ahem!
impala
Oh dear.
gracetodd
Oh-ho....let the fun begin! Wow! all those free trips and free tickets...
Talking about getting elected...excellent pay, fringe benefits and great job opportunities to be hired by big firms after retirement and countless invites to luxury perks of all kinds... my goodness!
What an amazing career path! Students...get it?!
megafun
most (99%) of HKers will agree that such an event is in fact "the trip of a lifetime"! As such we expect LEGCO to respond.
dynamco
To save Chitty the trouble, since 2004 to date Legislators lodged the following number of CX / Dragon Airlines complimentary flights
1 member x 5 trips (he donated to charity after each trip but not full amount)
1 member x 3 trips (actually he posted the same trip on 3 Jun 2008 + again on 9 Apr 2010 = 2 trips)
2 members x 2 trips each of which 1 member is also an Exco member & HKAA Board member
15 members x 1 trip of which 1 member is on HKAA board
1 Exco member 2013 x 1 trip
many of the earlier trips were 3 days each to Boeing Seattle or Airbus Toulouse collecting new planes for the return journey whilst some were new route openings to Moscow, Milan, Chicago
XYZ
Presumably the trips cited above are only those that have been declared to either the LegCo and ExCo secretariats. I'd rather see Cathay Pacific's full list of junkets provided to all public officials. If the post-trip declarations of the little piggies recently caught traveling to France are any indication, the list of undeclared trips would be much longer and would be of much greater interest to the public (as well as to the ICAC, if anyone over there is still awake).

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