CONSPIRACY theorists looking for an explanation as to why McDonald's is being burgered up by the cadres in Beijing need look no further than this. It just so happens that a director and major shareholder of McDonald's Restaurants (Hong Kong), is a pal of none other than Martin Lee Chu-ming, the self-described 'leading advocate of democracy' in Hong Kong. The chap is Daniel Ng Yat-chiu, whose friendship with Martin dates back to the days they went to high school together. When Martin was tackled on this he simply said: 'Daniel has never been a great financial supporter of the party'. Daniel's comment was that he hadn't spoken to Martin in ages. He added: 'I'm no Jimmy Lai.' Actually, McDonald's says the Hong Kong franchise has nothing to do with the blighted branch in Beijing, which is threatened with demolition to make way for a shopping centre with Li Ka-shing as investor. Incidentally, we confidently predict the new mall will hold a branch of Park 'N Shop and a branch of Watsons, for the simple reason that Superman's shopping malls always seem to be full of Superman's shops. Even though Daniel has nothing to do with the doomed outlet, the brains in Beijing might not necessarily be bright enough to realise this, of course. No claim bonus PETER Andrews of Kone Elevators had his car damaged in a public car park recently, with repairs quoted at $9,500. After $5,000 basic excess, $950 knocked off under the 10 per cent rule, and a baffling $2,000 excess for 'parking damage', he was due a cheque for $1,550. In return, he'd lose his $14,500 no-claim bonus. Why a $2,000 excess for parking damage? Apparently, the insurers think cars are more likely to be damaged when parked. Peter reckons that this explains why there's so much traffic - for insurance purposes it's better to drive around in circles than park your car. We think you've been lucky, Peter. If the repairs were quoted at just $6,000, if you'd claimed on the insurance not only would you lose your bonus but you'd have to send the insurance firm a cheque for $1,600. Round figures WE reported yesterday about how Hopewell Holdings got $7 billion out of HSBC Holdings because Gordon Wu Ying-sheung got a fax offering him the cash at 4 am. Thanks to this, customers of Hongkong Bank and Hang Seng Bank have each effectively loaned Gordon an average of $1,000 this week. A banker points out an interesting circularity. Over at CEPA, Hopewell's biggest subsidiary, they've lent out US$40 million in a strange deal involving something called a 'promissory note' in which the cash CEPA gets back reduces if the price of HSBC Holdings falls through the floor. If Gordon started getting behind in his payments - touch wood - the price of HSBC shares could go down, which could mean Gordon would get less for his promissory note, which could make it even more difficult for him to repay the loan. Flashing plastic IT'S refreshing to see that members of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in the textiles business aren't into ostentatious displays of wealth. They had a lunch meeting yesterday in the Chambers' own conference room with a speech about changes to the rules on country of origin. Lunch was an Olivers' sandwich and delegates also got a little box of mixed fruit salad and a plastic spoon to eat it with. In club WHEN a company is suspended on the stock exchange, it's serious, and when it's sued by its landlord, it's very serious. But when there's a dispute about club memberships - now, things are getting seriously serious. So it was with some concern that we learned yesterday of a dispute about corporate memberships for the China Club at troubled MKI and its associate Chesterfield. Khundkar Khalid Ahmed Hossain, the chief executive who is disputing his dismissal, has not only been locked out of his own office but has also been relieved of his China Club membership. The new boss at Chesterfield, a chap called Paul Liu Ngai-wing, fancied hobnobbing at the Club with the spare corporate membership, but discovered it had already been swiftly transferred to someone else. We would have thought that Mr Hossain's signature would have been needed for this transfer, but mysteriously the transfer has been done without it. Being in either of these two firms is a tough business these days, and if we were Paul we'd simply refuse to carry on unless a bit of hobnobbing was on tap at the end of a tough day.