• Sun
  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 1:50pm
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

captam
Surely members of the Airport Authority's board of directors are deemed public servants?
So a bribe is a bribe is a bribe
deerlai
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".
Kubrick
This was clearly a junket, otherwise why invite and pay for the spouses. Who do CX think they are kidding.
honger
Ms Cheung, could you please disclose who else were at CX's "entertainments" in the past?
Which Legco/Exco/Airport Authority/Finance Committee/etc member were at these junkets before, pray, Ms Cheung?
And, Ms Cheung, lest you are not aware, your definition of "entertainment" still runs foul of the regulations governing corruption. Accepting100K tickets plus room and board is no different than the millions accepted by Bo Xilai.
I know how warped values are now in this town..........but to try to spin your way out using the English language? Try again!
XYZ
It is a crime and should be prosecuted. Every one of the public officials involved should resign immediately and should be prosecuted for accepting an advantage. Cathay Pacific should be prosecuted for offering an advantage or whatever it is the Kwok brothers are accused of vis a vis Rafael ****.
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 .
dynamco
HK Standard 28/8/13
Exco freebie decision rests with CY
thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?we_cat=4&art_id=136954&sid=40243611&con_type=1&d_str=20130828&fc=4
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will decide on whether an executive councillor who joined a Cathay Pacific junket will be allowed to have his say on a third airport runway or even the aviation industry.
Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also said yesterday Cheng Yiu-tong made a declaration of interest before taking the controversial trip to France.
Lam said Cheng informed Exco before he & eight lawmakers departed on the six-day all- expenses-paid trip from August 16 to 21.
There was public outcry over a potential conflict of interest when Cheng and the legislators accepted the trip, during which Cathay management reiterated the importance of an additional runway at Hong Kong International Airport.
The airline also recently asked the government to reject an application by carrier Jetstar to operate from Hong Kong.
DAB lawmaker CHAN KAM-LAM said: "The trip was ONLY A NORMAL SOCIAL GATHERING arranged by Cathay & it was not lobbying Cheng or lawmakers to support the building of a third runway."
ah yes, Chan Kam Lam is impartial ?
HKAA Board member Honourable Chan Kam-lam SBS JP
Infrastructural Planning Committee
Aged 64. Appointed to the Board in Jan 2010 reappointed January 2013. Member of the Legislative Council Chairman of the Panel on Transport, Member of the Finance Committee
honger
Has Chan himself been to any of these junkets?
fsk999
Guess who has just been crossed off the list for the next trip!
John Adams
Mr Lo, you are asking the correct questions and CX are starting to squirm.
Who these days does NOT understand that:"aviation is an important industry in Hong Kong etc"?
One might as well ask "who does not regularly fly ?"
If I as an engineer (and a regular CX passenger) but with zero business / personal contacts to the aviation industry was invited to visit an Airbus factory I would jump at the chance and spend all my time at Airbus : the chance of a lifetime to see how an aircraft is built !
But, as a director of a company that has a huge market share in industry XYZ, if I was invited on a 10-day junket by one particular big customer to see "how products XYZ are made" I would run a million miles in the other direction in case it was seen as an advantage.
That would be doubly the case if I had any personal influence on the legislation (e.g. environmental) affecting industry XYZ .
If I really wanted to understand how products XYZ are made I would do it the hard way :shirt sleeves, low-profile, sweaty, hard, long visits to XYZ production lines, which in fact I did for decades.
.
Mr Albert Ho is on the board of the Airport Authority. All well and good. So let me ask him this:
.
Mr Ho : Compared with the 10 days in France "inspecting Airbus" how many days did you spend last year on the ground at HKIA in shirt sleeves inspecting HK's aviation industry at ground level ?
Zero ?

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