Hongkongers should be proud that despite the exalted position of former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, who was recently made bankrupt, he has not been spared the ignominy of public court appearances for his alleged corruption in office. Whether that's the much-vaunted rule of law at work or he is the victim of a political purge orchestrated by shadowy forces doesn't matter. Hui's ordeal - he faces charges over his dealings with Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen while in office - makes us believe that everyone is equal before the law. Because avarice has never been my strong suit, I don't understand why Hui would even bother to do what he allegedly did, given that he was already drawing a generous salary from the public purse. Equally incomprehensible is the obsessive greed of the Ming dynasty's Wanli Emperor, who reigned from 1572 to 1620. As head of a vast empire, surely he wanted for nothing. Yet he filled the imperial coffers through a staggering variety of taxes and forced tributes from the provinces, often extracted by sheer thuggery. While many despots had and have done the same in other places and times, what set Wanli apart was what he did with the riches he accumulated. Nothing. The silver he amassed was not used to fund an extravagant lifestyle or on government expenditure; it remained locked up in warehouses for years - to the extent that much of it eventually oxidised and became worthless.