Roaring Start to 2017

I tend to take the line to friends overseas that Hong Kong is the happening place and there are always fascinating things going on here. This is especially the case with friends who have lived here before and left us for duller pastures either as a career move or on retirement. This is a good way of teasing them that they made the wrong choice and should have stuck it out, however tough the going.

But the last couple of months we have really excelled ourselves. For a start, we locked up a former chief executive. My old friend and colleague Donald Tsang now sits in Stanley Prison having been convicted of the common law crime of Misconduct in Public Office. He also faces a re-trial on a corruption charge that the jury was unable to reach a verdict on first time around. While it is claimed he might appeal against conviction and the 20-month sentence, it is notoriously difficult to overturn a jury verdict. It has to be shown to a higher court that the presiding judge seriously misdirected the jury whereas all the reports suggest the judge in this case was scrupulously careful to be fair to the defendant (as indeed he should be). And the danger of appealing against sentence is that once the door is opened the higher court can go either way and order a stiffer penalty rather than a lighter one.

Some friends and commentators have mooted the possibility of a pardon by either the outgoing or incoming chief executive, but that seems unlikely before the appeal has been heard and the retrial concluded.

While we are on the subject of chief executives, it is only a few weeks since the incumbent Leung Chun Ying announced, contrary to everyone’s expectation, that he would not run for a second term. Hence the bun fight now in progress between former chief secretary Carrie Lam and former financial secretary John Tsang. Who will win the right to sup from the poisoned chalice? At the time of writing Carrie seems likeliest to get the votes of a majority on the election committee while John seems to be winning on the hearts and minds front with the general public.

As ever, watch this space!