27 February 2020
With hindsight, one can see that Norman Chan (right) has more career potential and longevity than Rafael Hui (left) who is six years his senior. Photo: HKEJ
With hindsight, one can see that Norman Chan (right) has more career potential and longevity than Rafael Hui (left) who is six years his senior. Photo: HKEJ

What if SHKP got Norman Chan rather than Rafael Hui?

There’s a price for everything, especially if you’re talking about hiring a former Hong Kong government official for a certain service.

For former chief secretary Anson Chan, it was HK$3 million (US$387,000) for writing a letter in January to HSBC and Bank of East Asia about why they were not advertising in Jimmy Lai’s publications.

For Rafael Hui, another former Hong Kong No. 2, it was HK$28 million and counting to be the “eyes and ears” in the government for Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), according to court records in Hong Kong’s biggest corruption trial.

Yesterday, it was revealed that SHKP had considered hiring a certain Norman Chan (believed to be Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan) as a consultant in 2002 until then SHKP chairman Walter Kwok questioned whether the idea was worth it.

Interestingly, Kwok calculated the cost of hiring Norman Chan at twice the annual rent on Kai Tak Mansion in Kowloon Bay, the annual rent on Hong Kong Plaza in Sai Wan, three months’ rent from shops at the Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui or four months’ rent from Metroplaza in Kwai Chung.

The actual amount was not mentioned but it was believed to be more than HK$10 million.

Kwok concluded that he could not “see the purpose and use of employing Norman Chan under the present depressing situation”.

Instead, he preferred Hui, who asked for at least HK$7 million and two rental offices as a consultant, because Hui was a “strategic thinker”.

Despite the obvious advantage of hiring a more senior official, hiring Chan would have spared SHKP all the trouble it’s in now.

Chan and Hui worked in the administration of former chief executive Donald Tsang. Both are products of Queen’s College, the top-notch colonial era Hong Kong institution, although Hui is six years older than Chan, who is now 60.

With the benefit of hindsight, one can see Chan has more career potential and longevity than Hui.

In 2002, Hui was happily managing the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority while Chan was waiting for promotion. He became HKMA deputy chief director in 1996 but it was not until 2009 that he would take over after his predecessor, Joseph Yam, retired. From 2005 to 2007, Chan worked for Standard Chartered.

Last year, Chan made HK$9.96 million at HKMA, less than his predecessor and way below the rent on any of the SHKP properties previously mentioned.

Still, the kind of blue-chip consultancy fee Chan would have received could have lit a fire under Hong Kong’s political establishment.

It would have been comparable to Next Media boss Jimmy Lai giving HK$3.5 million to the three organizers of Occupy Central, as it was revealed today, and donating HK$500,000 each to three more pan-democrats.

All denied any such donations but all this simply shows us how tycoons do their sums and balance their interests, whether they’re running a property business or a newspaper.

Related story:

SHKP considered hiring Norman Chan as consultant, court told

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EJ Insight writer