Hong Kong actor Adam Cheng says stock market influence is just fiction

'Ting Hai effect' actor says his shows can't really be blamed for stock falls

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 11:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 9:08am

While legendary Hong Kong actor Adam Cheng Siu-chow's role in the 1992 TVB soap opera The Greed of Man may have been a tour de force, neither the actor nor the show are any kind of a market force, Cheng says.

"It just can't be true, but I am used to it now," Cheng said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

The 68-year-old actor has been a household name for more than half a century. An accomplished singer and dancer, as well as an actor, Cheng has held leading roles mostly in TVB productions since the 1970s, and also at ATV in the 1980s.

But none was as "evil and dark" as his portrayal of Ting Hai in the 40 episodes of The Greed of Man during the autumn of 1992. The drama told the story of the rise of an uneducated young man through betrayal and corruption. At the end, protagonist Ting paid the price in the derivatives market and lost everything, including his four sons who, at their father's order, jumped off the roof of the stock exchange building.

"I had some hesitation with the script, and my wife was plainly opposed to it. But in the end I went ahead with it because I believe there is a sinister side in human nature," Cheng said.

The gruesome ending was the talk of the town and came to be seen as a curse when the Hang Seng Index lost more than 1,200 points, or 20 per cent, within a month after the series. In what has become known as the Ting Hai effect, observers point to sudden, unexplained declines in the stock market when a Cheng programme or film is released.

A 2004 report by Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia on the 10 per cent loss in the Hang Seng Index after Cheng's new series Blade Heart, said: "Although no logical reasons could be found, the predictive power of the 'Adam Cheng effect' is mysteriously accurate."

However, Cheng said: "I think it's just an excuse for securities brokers to create some kind of a sensation for ignorant investors, and prompt them to action.

"Reporters have asked me repeatedly all these years about the phenomenon and they seem to have made me what they said I am - that is, the culprit responsible for those [market] plunges."

But diehard believers remain unwavered. A rerun of the original 1992 The Greed of Man on April 20 sparked a fresh round of discussions in blogs and print.

Bloggers in local online portals have posted a variety of requests, from charging TVB for market manipulation to calling for an immediate halt to the show and even a boycott of TVB.

But Cheng was unfazed. "I told everyone the stock market would go up and I was right because it did go up after losing on the day of the first episode," he laughed.

"My friend, who has a heavy load of stocks, told me the internal consumption on the mainland is so huge that the stock market would only go up in order to sustain the consumption level," he said.

Asked if he had ever done any short-selling when his series was about to go on air, he said: "I never pay attention to that because I just don't believe in the so-called phenomenon. I invest but don't speculate in stocks, and I win in the long run."