My Anthem

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I enjoy le Carre's stories, now it's life imitating fiction?

I am moving from blogging about politics to personality-based stories which paint a larger picture of the protagonist and his/her home country. So today's offering by Irishtimes via the Malaysia Chronicle strikes a chord with Desi's, honourable schoolboy dies ior knot!:) OR :( I'm woprking on my le Carre-like or Sherlock Holmesque novel to try earn that 20million that my Midnight Voices couldn't. They say once you still have dreams, even nightmares, you are still in the race to stardom .. Hollywood, bollywood or beijingbambooforestreee oso cun! ~~ YL, Desi, knottyaSsusual

PS: Lust night I especially enjoyed COVERT AFFAIRS whch spanned international territores, and of course, a curvy beauty who in her 30s steal looks virginal; I don't know if she has tastes for shorty Asian men dough:( But I did hint that hope springs eternal even if it's still in the windmills of a writHer's mind, mine! 20million, and in desperado circumcisiondimes, Rupiah oso can do-lah:) LOL! 

Cheers, ENJOY if you can:~~~

Thursday, 12 April 2012 07:45

Scandal in Beijing: Communist purge that reads like a spy novel

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Scandal in Beijing: Communist purge that reads like a spy novel
An accusation that the wife of a former party high-flyer had murdered a British businessman exposes bitter divisions in China’s political elite, writes CLIFFORD COONAN in Beijing
CHINA WAS buzzing with speculation yesterday about the dramatic upheavals at the centre of power, after one-time rising star Bo Xilai was purged and his wife was accused of murdering a British businessman.
This is a typical communist purge, but with 21st century characteristics; it reads like a cross between an episode of The Sopranos and an early John le Carré novel.
The expulsion will take down Bo’s whole family, including his wife, Gu Kailai, and son, Bo Guagua, and exposes bitter divisions in the political elite in China.
Neil Heywood was an associate of Gu Kailai and had other links to the deposed leader, including mentoring Bo Guagua. Heywood died in November in Chongqing of apparently natural causes, but Gu has been accused of having him killed.
Bo, who was sacked as party boss in Chongqing on March 15th, has been expelled from the politburo and the central committee of the Communist Party, and is being investigated by the party’s disciplinary commission.
The Communist Party’s official organ, the People’s Daily, ran an editorial saying that no one was above the law, which has convinced many that Gu is likely to suffer the full consequences of a trial.
Steve Yui-sang Tsang, professor of contemporary Chinese studies and director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, spoke of the “slow-motion curtain coming down on Bo Xilai”.
“This has all got to do with Mr Bo and power politics. She is a suspect in a murder trial, so why state so clearly that her rank will not protect her. The way the People’s Daily article was written suggests she is already guilty – it’s politically driven,” Tsang said.
On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of the banned Twitter service, the words “Bo” and “Xilai” were banned terms, so people searched under “serious breach of the rules”.
Many of the comments were supportive of Bo, praising his success in introducing social housing and improving the environment. “This is not a good sign,” wrote one. “If political struggle heats up, where will this country go? Will there be deep reform, or just fuzzy reform, like ‘stepping stones across a river’?”
In the absence of hard facts, analysts are looking in the recent past for clues, when Bo’s former key lieutenant and security chief Wang Lijun sought asylum in the US consulate in Chengdu, the Sichuan capital.
Why did Wang go to the consulate in February, when he knew that he would be in serious trouble as a result of his actions, possibly executed for treason?
This after all is a politically driven and focused security chief, who reportedly said about the time of his arrest that he was “going down” and would take the “bastard” Bo with him.
A possible explanation is that while investigating Heywood’s death, he discovered something that made him so frightened that he made this almost suicidal decision to enter the consulate. The central authorities then saw the opportunity to build up a case against Bo.
“We don’t know if Mr Heywood was poisoned or murdered,” Tsang said. “The authorities seemed pretty sure he was not murdered 24 hours earlier. It’s possible that they are using the Heywood case to fix Bo.
“It would not surprise me to learn that Mr Heywood had died without it being murder, but since the body is cremated, there is not much evidence to prove murder or otherwise,” Tsang added. “It is almost impossible for Gu Kailai to have a fair trial.”
Ho-fung Hung, associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, believes efforts to unseat Bo have been in the works since late last year, when investigators began sniffing around his associates in his former fiefdoms in Liaoning province and Dalian. “Bo Xilai’s enemies were investigating the people following him to find traces of corruption,” Hung said.
“Bo Xilai and his family handled this very badly. The death of a foreigner is a diplomatic issue beyond the control of Bo Xilai. To implicate in a high-profile way the wife of a politburo member in the murder of a foreign national is very serious.
“There is good reason to speculate that Mr Heywood knew something about Bo Xilai and his family,” Hung added. “Sometimes you have to give value to the speculation because the rumours have been there since the start, and the government now confirms these rumours.”
Hung added: “Also they mentioned Bo Guagua in the announcement, and that’s related to politics. They want to end the fortune and the career of a whole family. In recent history we cannot recall a prominent family being treated like this.
“Princelings always assumed they were free of the consequences of a power struggle. The game may be changing. This is beyond the path of a normal power struggle.”
The timing is not too bad for the top elite, as there are still months to go before the transition of power and everything could go peacefully.
“But it’s also possible that what happened to Bo could scare the princelings. It could be a Pandora’s Box that spirals out of control, we could have instability like we saw in 1988 and 1989, and it’s a bad time because the economy is headed in a bad direction,” Hung said.
“Mr Bo’s style is very individualistic. If he got into the standing committee of the Politburo, it’s a threat to everybody. This is the removal of a threat.”


UPDATEd @12.45PM: C how heART Desi works for thee, yet I receive NO TIPS or endless rounds of Ttarik wan!:(

A Companion Piece from SAR Hong Long; maybe a local CON to follow -- Altantuya you tanya ke? BUT you o'lady know this wan by heART!

Monday, 02 April 2012 08:14

Sex and betrayal in HK's Kwok family Featured

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Sex and betrayal in HK's Kwok family
EVEN before last week, the Kwok family story had all the juicy ingredients of a Hong Kong TVB drama serial – a dynasty of billionaires, a kidnapping, feuding siblings, a mistress, charges of mental illness, a bitter boardroom coup, a family torn apart.
Now add dramatic arrests and allegations of corruption involving the highest levels of government.
The Hong Kong media has been in a frenzy since news broke last Thursday of the shock arrest of Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the brothers who run Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), Hong Kong’s largest property developer, on suspicion of bribery.
Also arrested was a former top government official – identified by the media as former chief secretary Rafael Hui – for alleged “misconduct in public office”.
No charges have been filed and no official details were available about the case.
The company’s share price took an immediate hit, diving 13% for a loss of US$4.9bil by the close of trading last Friday.
Paradoxically, until last week, the Kwok brothers had managed to stay relatively low-key – despite their family history – in a city where tycoons are treated like movie stars.
Among Hong Kong’s many powerful property tycoons, the family had enjoyed a comparatively untainted reputation.
“Their property projects had a good reputation for quality,” David Webb, a shareholder activist, told the Wall Street Journal. “And their corporate structure is cleaner than some groups that have multiple different companies in their structure.”
An investment banker who used to deal regularly with the company told the Financial Times he always found the brothers “straightforward” to deal with.
Thomas and Raymond Kwok, aged 61 and 60 respectively, were also known for being extremely devoted to their mother and for their evangelical Christian faith.
In 2009, the Kwok brothers built a 137m replica of Noah’s Ark, with nearly 70 pairs of fibreglass animals, as a theme park “to promote positive values”.
In the 1990s, Thomas pushed successfully to establish a church in the pyramid atrium on the 75th floor of Central Plaza, one of Hong Kong’s three tallest buildings.
The beginning
The company was founded in 1963 by family patriarch Kwok Tak-seng, who rose to prominence by breaking into every facet of the property business, from residential to hotels to industrial development.
Born in Zhongshan, in China’s Guangdong province, he moved to Hong Kong after World War II. He partnered Fung King-hey and Lee Shau-kee to establish Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1958.
Lee, who went on to found Henderson Land Development Co, is now the city’s second richest man behind Li Ka-shing, who helms Cheung Kong Holdings.
Like Lee and Li, Kwok went on to make a fortune from the three-decade surge in Hong Kong home prices.
“Just like their major competitors, Sun Hung Kai was in the right industry during the biggest housing demand boom in Hong Kong’s history,” Professor Eddie Hui, from the Department of Building and Real Estate at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, told Bloomberg News.
Sun Hung Kai is known for its high-end apartments, which have helped distinguish the company, Prof Hui added.
After its listing on the city’s stock exchange in 1972, SHKP’s stock market value grew to more than US$30bil, with assets of HK$442bil as of December last year.
In market value, SHKP was second only to US mall owner Simon Property Group Inc, the world’s biggest with US$44.3bil.
Before last Friday, the Kwoks’ 42% stake in SHKP gave them an estimated fortune of US$18.3bil, ranking them the 27th wealthiest family in the world, according to Forbes magazine.
A death and a kidnapping
When the Kwok patriarch died of a heart attack on Oct 30, 1990 at the age of 79, he left behind his wife and three sons.
The reins of the Kwok empire passed to eldest son Walter, who became chairman and chief executive.
But the family’s wealth attracted the notice of Cheung Tze-keung, a prominent gangster nicknamed Big Spender.
In 1997, Walter was kidnapped by Cheung, beaten, stripped to his underwear and kept for a week in a wooden box before his family negotiated his freedom.
It is said that matriarch Kwong Siu-hing held a secret meeting with Big Spender in a luxury Central apartment as her eldest son languished, half-naked, in the wooden container box in a village house in the New Territories.
Cheung got away with the biggest ransom paid in Hong Kong history – HK$600mil or US$77.3mil at current exchange rates – but he was caught and executed by firing squad on the mainland in 1998.
Bitter feud splits family
Although Walter was freed, all was not well in the Kwok family and a bitter battle for control of the SHKP empire exploded into public view in 2008.
The two younger brothers, Thomas and Raymond, and their 79-year-old mother staged a successful coup after claiming Walter was unfit for duty because he was mentally disturbed – claims that Walter denied.
But there were reports that the family was actually furious that Walter, a married man, had been conducting a long-running affair and reportedly tried to bring his alleged lover onto the board of SHKP.
The woman at the centre of that storm was Ida Tong Kam-hing, a Hong Kong lawyer five years Walter’s senior. Walter, now 62, has known her for more than 30 years, from before he married his wife, Wendy.
Tong was dubbed “HK’s Camilla” by Hong Kong’s tabloid press, who likened the relationship to Prince Charles’ secret long-running affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles from before his marriage to Princess Diana.
The media painted a picture of a plain-looking, aggressive woman, who had frequent spats with the wives of Walter’s two brothers.
Hong Kong media reported that, as a young man, Walter broke off his relationship with Tong because his father disapproved of her. But the relationship reportedly bloomed again after his kidnap ordeal.
In the course of the nasty public battle, Walter filed a defamation suit against his brothers for allegations he says they made against him in three letters addressed to their mother and to SHKP directors.
According to the suit, the letters suggested that Walter suffered from bipolar disorder and was a liar who was unfit for his position.
Following a three-month battle played out in newspaper headlines, Walter was eliminated from the family trust and relegated to a non-executive director post. His mother took over as chairman until December last year when Thomas and Raymond became joint chairmen.
There is speculation that the current investigation by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) may be tied to a court case filed by Walter four years ago in an effort to save his job, the Journal reported.
At the time, Walter claimed that he was being forcibly removed as chairman because he wanted to investigate certain matters within the company and improve its corporate governance.
One incident he highlighted in a writ of summons filed with the Hong Kong High Court referred to how Thomas Chan, an executive director arrested last week, had allegedly arranged for SHKP to acquire a parcel of land through a middleman at a higher price than the seller had originally offered.
The judge ruled then that the issue was a matter for the company to address internally.
Walter said last Friday through his spokesman that he had no comment on the arrests. Spokesman Lucy Chan told the Financial Times: “We hope that people will stop making meaningless speculation in the absence of any evidence.”
Since leaving SHKP’s executive management, Walter has made several property investments, including a joint venture with SHKP rival Li ’s Cheung Kong Holdings to develop a residential project.
The ICAC also said last Thursday that it had arrested Rafael Hui – a long-time Kwok family friend and once special adviser to SHKP.
Nicknamed “king of strategy”, Hui was seen as the most trusted aide to chief executive Donald Tsang, who gave him the city’s No. 2 job after he was elected in 2005. Hui was secretary for financial services from 1995 to 2000.
The 64-year-old veteran civil servant even worked briefly with ICAC’s graft-busters during their toughest days in the 1970s.
Hui has been described as the “mastermind” behind Thomas and Raymond and their mother’s efforts to take control of the family’s business empire – something both SHKP and Hui have denied.
Last Friday, Hong Kong’s Standard newspaper, quoting unidentified sources, reported that the arrests involved “a senior government official who allegedly revealed confidential land sales information to a developer in 2003 in exchange for staying in a flat for free for three months”.
“After that, the official rented the flat at a rate lower than the market price.”
— Singapore Straits Times

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