Friday, February 12, 2010

On Bondage, Liberty and Justice

As a rule, I publish every comment, few as they are that I receive on this blog without regard to weather it is supportive or oppositional to my point of view. If warranted I will reply and enjoy people's comments. There are really only two exceptions to this rule. I don’t generally publish comments created by either Spambots or those which are commercial in nature. Comments should improve a post and those don’t. Second I don’t publish simple insults. You are free to call me “::::::::::::::::” I just don’t have to publish it.

The only other comments I have not posted, that I remember are some of the ones I received from my posts about Nancy Kissel. I’ve written about her quite a lot over the years and for some reason those post have been among the most widely read. If I use Google’s Analytics function it is clear, the post about Nancy Kissel get read far more often than anything else I write. My traffic on that day or the day after a Nancy post is much higher. I have even posted most of the comments I've received about those post. But, there have been comments and Emails from what I believe are family members of both Nancy Kissel and her late husband. I did not post those. They were simply too personal. However, I also steadfastly refuse to use Nancy Kissel’s name in a post to simply pull in traffic.

Well, Nancy was in the news again yesterday and today. In a surprise decision the Court of Final Appeal awarded her a new trial yesterday. I missed the news last night and didn’t see anything about this until quick recap at 10:00 PM right before CSI. Talk about a jaw dropper!

Let me start off be reiterating, Nancy Kissel murdered her husband. She is guilty as charged and in a society with a properly functioning justice system should be in jail for life and the reason this case just fascinates me is because I believe it showcases everything that is wrong with the justice system in Hong Kong. I believe that because of the incoherent or seemingly arbitrary way that judges set sentences Nancy Kissel should be simply freed. That doesn’t mean I think she is innocent.

Honestly, at this point I think her lawyers have a good argument that she cannot and possibly could never have received a fair trial in Hong Kong. There was just too much publicity surrounding the case. The court should have issued a gag order during the first trial. Once the details of this case started getting out, especially in the sensationalist Chinese language papers and the even more sensationalist SCMP any chance of an unbiased jury was gone.

THBT should cowboy up on this one and ask the shoe-shin brigade in Beijing to watch this trial closely. If Nancy is freed, even on a technicality, he should point one of his stubby fingers at them and say: “See, the government doesn’t have to always win. You need to take politics out of the legal system.” In China, Nancy Kissel would never have received a new trial. She’d have been dead 4.5 years ago. As flawed as the legal system is here, it is miles better than the one up North.

I have said, and I will continue to say that the greatest gift Hong Kong can give to China and the Chinese people is a first hand look at what a free society looks like. Freedom is more than not starving. Freedom is more than having money. The Chinese need to see what it means to have a government that abides by its own laws even when those laws cause embarrassment to the state. In recent years China has stressed the need for a harmonious society. That is bad idea. What China needs is a free society, a tolerant society, a society that allows dissent. The PRC does not need Hong Kong’s money, its expertise or experience. The PRC needs the freedom, no matter how imperfect Hong Kongers enjoy. In a harmonious society everybody agrees with each other. In a free society we respect each other and realize that other may differ with us. I'd rather live in a free society than a harmonious one.

Forget Tibet, free China!

If the new trial awarded to Nancy Kissel serves to help, even a little to get the gangsters who run the CCP to be answerable to their own laws it will be worth every cent spent. I’m sure Liu Xiabao would agree. China needs a justice system that isn’t controlled by the party and that is not answerable to the cadres. One like we have in Kong Kong, only better.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who wanted to grow up and become a lawyer when he was little and didn't know any better

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Looking Around

I spent a large part of the morning completing a 360 review of my administrative assistant because her contract is up for renewal. What a complete or near complete waste of time!

I have never liked these reviews. Suppose my assistant, let us call her “Sharon” is doing a good job? If I simply fill out the 360 form and say “Excellent” in every box it looks like I am not serious about filling it out. Alternately, if I really take the time to fill out the evaluation form and present it to the HR office with every little flaw in Sharon’s work performance then it looks like Sharon has all sorts of problems and is a lousy assistant and she isn’t.

Why can’t the HR office simply ask a couple of fairly obvious questions?

1. Do you recommend a new contract for this person?

2. Do you recommend a step on the pay scale for this person?

3. If not what are your recommendations?

a. Why

b. Why

c. Why

Unless I want her fired I don't see the point of this type of evaluation. When I need her to do something I ask and she does it. If she needs to be trained in a procedure I train her. She is not perfect, none of us are but she does a wonderful job. I just don’t see how these evaluations help?

Until Next Time
Fai mao
The Blogger who has a really, really good assistant

Jacko death rap doc bailed

What a great headline.

I was never a "Wacho-Jacko" fan. But this is just so sad. The guy had become a parody of himself and it would have been nice to see him age at least as ungracefully as The Who or The Rolling Stones. Not many entertainers manage to age well. Paul McCarthy has, as have the Eagles; very few others.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who thinks Michael Jackson and Cher may be more alike than either realized

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Of Babies and Bath Water

This past Sunday a woman threw her daughter over the seventh floor rail at a shopping mall and then climbed the rail and jumped to her own death while her husband and other shoppers watched in horror. Luckily or perhaps unluckily the little girl landed on safety netting and was physically unhurt. I would not want to have to deal with the emotional damage this incident caused the child.

The SCMP, assuming it can be believed, says today that the reason for this was that the child had failed to get into an ESF (The English Schools Foundation) school after completing the ESF kindergarten. The Standard has an article up about how the rails and balustrades at malls need to be higher, which while probably true misses the point.

Many schools in Hong Kong have Kindergartens that accept more students than they can enroll into the 1st Grade. The one I work for is that way, so are most of the International Schools. ESF is evidently no different, though you could make a good case that it should be. ESF is the English speaking public school system in Hong Kong. They get huge government subsidies but still charge through the roof tuition. They were setup by the colonial aristocracy to provide a school environment similar to the one that existed in the formerly Great Britain which is now the UK. That way a civil servant from “Merry Old England” could come to deepest darkest Hong Kong, and not have to worry about putting their simpering, monolingual brats in schools where they would have excessive contact with the children of the benighted, slant-eyed, tofu eating locals. Separate but unequal, the true spirit of Britain! At least Americans tried to maintain an illusion of separate but equal back in their more overtly racist education policy days. The result is that unlike the, supposedly more exclusive private, international schools which cater to the wealthy or more overtly religious ESF does not, or should not need the money spinner that Kindergartens are to supplement finances. They should be a through system, just like the Chinese speaking schools. That is not the view that the ESF teachers and administration have of themselves but it is effectively what they are.

But, I digress; or maybe not.

The real issue is that the local population sees that the Chinese speaking schools are underfunded, understaffed and to this observer basically uncared about by the EDB boot-lickers, Shoe-Shine Boys and Running Dogs for the now departed colonial regime. I cannot blame the local parents for wanting to get their kids out of a classroom that has a 44 to 1 teacher student ratio. The Chinese language schools curriculum consists of mainly memorizing and repeating it back and seems to be designed to create graduates who are marginally literate, follow the rules and don't ask questions of their betters. Sort of an intellectual vomitoria rather than a school.

It does not take a genius to realize that if you want your child to have a chance of a better life than living in cramped, noisey and unattractive government housing and working as a sales clerk or waitress they might need a little better education. I cannot blame parents for not wanting to place their child in a local school. That does not excuse what this mother did but does make it understandable. There are fates worse than death and spending  the rest of your life working 18 hours a day in a menial job may be one of them.

Granted, the parents here many times push their kids too hard. Granted, the parents here have expectations for their children's education and abilities that are far above what could called rational or reasonable. Granted, the purpose of an education is not simply to get a better job. But, the real blame for this tragedy falls at the feet of the EDU who have consistently refused to reduce class size in the Chinese schools or improve the curriculum.

The over funded ESF and a few of the so called “Elite English Schools” which are also government funded  soak massive amounts of money while the majority of local schools are ignored. The EdB simply, and obvioulsy if you look at the budget does not care about the educational needs of the poor and less fortunate in Hong Kong. They have refused to install anything approaching a child centered curriculum. The government has also aided and abetted the unscrupulous tycoons who have created a working environment here that is so oppressive that parents regularly work 80 or 90 hour a week to make enough to not starve. Can you blame a parent wanting better than that for their child? Can you blame them for thinking that perhaps if my child works harder now they won't have to slave away in a restaurant kitchen for 18 hours a day?

Parents realize how bad the Chinese schools are. Even the teachers in the local schools realize how bad the schools are. That is a shame because unlike say the US or UK most of the problems in HK schools are not related to a decaying social structure. The problem here is simply one of curriculum and access to a quality education. The Hong Kong Government could fix the problems in the Chinese schools but simply doesn’t. Instead it builds a useless high speed rail link that will allow the THBT and his cronies to have lunch with members of the Shoe-Polish brigade in Guangzhou every other day.

So, Mr Michael M Y Suen, Secretary for Education, how hard is it to wash that blood off your hands? Do you even notice it is there?

Until Next Time
Fai mao
The Blogger who thinks all Hong Kong children, not just the British ones deserve a decent education

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Oh Boy

Maybe I should just  post this and not comment further except to say that my really-pretty-hard-working-looks-25-years-younger-than -she- is-Chinese wife works harder than most men I know

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Death of a Diva - One last time

So, Tony Chan lost his attempt to gain control of Nina Wong's, ChinaChem fortune. The judge found his will to be fraudulent and awarded the fortune to Nina's late husband's family. This was such a bazaar story. Hong Kong used to be a more interesting place when there were more people like Nina Wong running around.

Just to recap.

Nina Wong, who at the time was just past her prime but still a rather hot-to-trot gold digger, in need of a patron to make her his mistress struck pay dirt when she was able to actually marry and aging tycoon. Said Tycoon is kidnapped shortly thereafter. Nina pays ransom, or said she did. Tycoon is never returned and is presumed dead after several years. During probate Nina turns up with a slicker than grease lawyer from the UK and a hand written will that is unsigned, not in her husband's handwriting and before this date not known to exist. This new, somewhat dubious Last Will and Testament revokes the old will which gave Nina a pension suitable for a high dollar mistress and instead gives the entire ChinaChem fortune to Nina. The now presumed to be dead tycoon's family received nothing but the shaft. Nina loses in probate and appeals. She appeals again and has a judge call her a lying, counterfeit will forging scum bag, though not in those precise words. Undeterred, Nina takes her case to the Court of Final Appeal and wins a surprise and final victory. There is no other court higher that the now dispossessed family members can raise appeal too.

Nina is suddenly the wealthiest woman in Asia as well as the ugliest as she is now well past her prime. But Nina undeterred plaits her hair in pig tails like a little girl and bounces around Asia building up the fortune of her stolen business and breaking camera lenses and mirrors from here to Shanghai. She makes plans to build a 115 story tall hotel in Tsuen Wan which can't be done because the area is in the flight path of the airport and settles for a mere 60 or 80 story tall corporate HQ instead with a Japanese anime style cartoon character sculpture of her self in the lobby. Supposedly she also considers producing a children's cartoon series based upon her life. I kid you not!

Several years later Nina announces that she has cancer. Nobody was surprised because she looked like death on toast anyway and to see her actually dead would be an improvement.

Shortly thereafter, Nina dies because she refused any treatment except that provided by a Fung Shui Master who was also acting as a Chinese herbalist.

Her will leaves her entire fortune to her late tycoon husband’s family which has been waiting all these year in if not in penury then at least a state of relatively non-super wealthiness.

But wait! In steps the Fung Shui Master cum Chinese herbalist Tony Chan. He appears with the same slicker than grease lawyer from the UK and a handwritten, but not in Nina's handwriting, Last Will and Testament that was not known to exist before her death that gives the entire ChinaChem fortune to him, rather than the late tycoon husband's family because (You couldn't make this stuff up) he was her friend, business advisor, adulterous lover and trusted confidant in all things Fung Shui, business and amourous for nearly two decades. (Fung Shui is a Chinese superstition that makes Astrology look like a real science for those of you not in Asia.) Tony claims that first he helped Nina look for her missing husband then helped her with her business ventures. He nexted helped her look for her underwear before he helped her look for her check book. Lastly he provided medical treatment for her cancer. Indeed, he, in his role as Fung Shui Master cum Chinese herbalist was the only one Nina allowed to treat her cancer. Hmmmmmmmmm, motive, opportunity and access all he needed was a will. Well he got one!

It gets better.

It seems that over the years Nina had paid said Mr. Chan over 2.3 BILLION Hong Kong dollars in Fung Shui, business consultation and giggilo fees. Tony's wife, an ever practical and modern Chinese woman when informed of her grinning husband's two decade long affair with an aging gorgon 17 years his senior said; "I don't care what he does as long as he provides enough money and I like to be wealthy." Nice family!

It now turns out that the Hong Kong Casanova did not declare any of the 2.3 billion Nina gave him as income on his tax returns. If I may say so Tony, that was a mistake.

I wonder how jail is going to affect his Fung Shui?

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The blogger who reads the society pages in the SCMP rather than watching soap operas

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pardon me, I hope this isn't a dumb question but........?

I wish that the Hong Kong Standard would do a better job of putting today’s news up with links. This tragedy happened this weekend and they have it in the "Today's” edition that you can browse but not with an IP that I can link to.

The gist of the situation is this.

A slumlord owns a building. In an effort to maximize both the rent generated by the building and to increase the misery of the poor in Hong Kong said slum lord has the building modified so that it contains smaller rooms thereby turning a two bedroom flat into a 7, 10 or 12 bedroom facility with a shared bathroom and kitchen but each room is rented to a different person or persons. To facilitate this conversion the slum lord has weight bearing walls taken out to make the interior more space efficient. Removing weight bearing walls causes the building to collapses killing six people. It also destabilizes the adjacent buildings and they have to be evacuated and demolished as well.

The government comes in and cleans up the mess and relocates the affected tennants. The owner of the building has, to this point continued to walk around free and has faced no immidiate financial liability other than the loss of rent.

Now for the dumb questions:

  1. Why hasn’t the owner of the building that collapsed been arrested and frog-marched out in front of TV cameras?
  2. Why haven’t the assets of this slum lord been frozen?
  3. Why is it the government’s responsibility to pay for this?
  4. Shouldn't it be the slum lords responsibility to pay for this? 
  5. Didn’t this break all sorts of safety laws?
  6. What about fire codes?
  7. Isn't it illegal to put this many people in a building not designed to house so many?
  8. How is the slime that owned this building still allowed to breath free air?

To be fair some of the people in the Buildings and Lands department should be strung up as well. This building was inspected 6 months ago. The overpaid, underworked, intellectually challenged, HKU graduate civil servants that populate the HK government cannot even seem to issue repair orders to poorly maintained buildings. They issue warning  after warning after warning but allow the landlords years, YEARS to come into compliance if anyone complains or contest the notice. Honestly, some of the civil servants and inspectors who allowed this to happen should also go to jail and more should be looking for another job. Somebody needs to be prosecuted and somebody needs to be fired over this beyond the slum lord.

Some of the renters displaced by this event are complaining, and rightly so I might add, that the locations that the government has provided for relocation are too far away from where they work. Now if you are an over paid underworked civil servant who has a Mercedes and a driver living in Tuen Mun and working in Hung Hom might not be a big deal. But if you are a working class person who makes $5000.00 a month who has to take a bus this is a big deal. These people should be relocated to flats in the immediate area and the slum lord who caused this should be responsible for paying for three months rent to give the people affected by this a chance to find another place to live.

The slum lord should also be prosecuted for murder as should the contractor who agreed to remove weight bearing walls. That to my knowledge they haven't been arrested and have even been given three or four days to hide assets is gross negligence on the part of the government and law enforcement officials in Hong Kong.

Hey maybe if the laws don't apply to this slum lord they don't apply to me as well. Maybe I should find out their name through the records department and go after them with a tire iron. I mean if they are not arrested for what they did then how could I be arrested for beating them to death? I am not going to do that but I wonder if I could? Now there is a good question!

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who thinks that wise landlords think about the safety of their tenants