• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 8:34pm
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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This article is now closed to comments

Has Chan himself been to any of these junkets?
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?!
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.
Thanks. What I would like to know is how these trips benefitted Hong Kong.
I agree most of the points raised in Alex's article except that "CX is Hong Kong's equivalent" national airlines. The status of "national airlines" may be true before 1997. Some one need to redefine the term, "national".
John Adams
What is it about Rafael H - U - I 's surname that it always appears as **** ?
I can't think of any swear word, neither english nor even cantonese that would cause such offence to the SCMP's automatic anti- vulgarity filter.
Unless it's because what Raffy did was so bad that even before he is found guilty his name has become a bad word .
Alex, your editor in chief may have tried to silence you, but your intelligence is coming from outside sources which do the job which a serious, investigative journalist should do him/herself, unless this is another case of self-censorship by a Beijing influenced SCMP owner.
Why do HK's journalists never really dig deep for the real facts?
Too many vested interests involved?
the first 10 words hit the nail on the head as I am aware what information the journalist was in possession of
the editor meanwhile writes a column on meaningless drivel events in his motherland irrelevant to the majority of the readers & kowtows to the local Govt hierarchy who hate bad press
High time for Apple Daily to start an English language newspaper
get real please ! sound like you work for CX
they are Legco members they are not Government servants, they are Public Servants under the law
they are supposed to monitor actions like this by Government servants not set a bad example
1/2 of them cannot be voted out as they are Functional Constituency puppets
Your response makes no sense. I suggest you look at the list of pecuniary declarations made by the MPs of (say) the Australian Parliament - equivalent to Legco members - and you will see that they will have accepted hospitality from a number of corporate or other entities who will be affected by any government policies. Does it mean that the MPs having accepted this hospitality will blindly vote in favour of the policy that benefits the corporate? No. The same result could be achieved by the chief executive of the corporate taking that MP out to lunch. It is only Hong Kongers' naivety and childishness in thinking they can sniff out a conspiracy at every turn that has even developed this into a news story; and again reinforces the perception the world holds of Hong Kongers as being worldly naïve in the matters of government and democracy.




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