Lai See

HSBC distances itself from David Eldon's blog

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 October, 2014, 5:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 October, 2014, 5:11am

David Eldon's blog last week has attracted some attention. This is because Eldon is well-known as a former chairman of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp until his retirement in 2005 and because in his blog he dwells on recent events in Hong Kong. Like Lai See he rejoices about the absence of traffic, illegal parking, and noxious fumes in Central. But he goes on to say that the revelations about the payments Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying received from UGL might lead to pressure from Beijing for him to resign.

In an unusually frank observation for someone to have reached the exalted position of former chairman, he says: "President Xi Jinping has made very clear his abhorrence of corruption, and if there is the slightest unpleasant smell about this, what better way than to remove an unpopular official? The departure will not have been the result of student pressure … and should see the temporary installation of an altogether more popular person in the shape of Carrie Lam."

Eldon returned to banking in 2011 and currently holds the positions of non-executive chairman of HSBC Bank Middle East, HSBC Bank Oman SAOG, and is chairman of HSBC's Global Commercial Bank Risk Committee.

It is for this reason no doubt that HSBC somewhat belatedly on Monday issued a press statement: "HSBC notes the recent comments of David Eldon in his blog of 9 October 2014. Mr Eldon was commenting as a private individual and the bank would like to clarify his comments do not in any way reflect the view of HSBC Group."

This seems a pointless exercise, since we never thought this was the bank's view and it only serves to draw attention to Eldon's comments which it doubtless would have preferred he hadn't made. Indeed had HSBC not issued its questionable statement we wouldn't have written this.


An inconvenient truth

One of the unintended side effects of the umbrella movement has been to shine a light on triad activity. It is astonishing that a large organised group of masked men can just turn up in Admiralty and Causeway Bay as they did on Monday and start throwing their weight around in what is supposed to Asia's World City.

Speaking to people who take an interest in these matters and who observed this incident say they came prepared and were well organised. Triad attacks on protesters in Mong Kok also seem to have been organised.

To hear people talk about them in the media you would think that they were one of the pillars of Hong Kong society. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are a pernicious and corrosive cancer in Hong Kong and dangerously destabilising. Alarmingly the gangs and particularly the senior leaders appear to have prospered since the handover in 1997. The British regarded them as a danger and a threat to the government's control over the city.

Before 1997 there were various schemes to undermine the triads and more vigorous police action to destabilise them. Now the message from the mainland is that the triads are an asset so long as they are "patriotic".

You would have thought the government would be embarrassed by having the triads carry out its dirty work.

It is clearly more convenient to have thugs do this kind of work rather than suffer the repercussions of police or PLA intervention. The government denies any direct connection with them.

Having seen this show of triad force on one of the main streets in Hong Kong you would have thought this would have people calling for a crackdown. But the truth is that the opposite is likely to occur. It's a disturbing prospect.


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