18 October 2019
David Siu (above) says Hong Kong's core values have been eroded since the administration of Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's first post-colonial lader. Photo: HKEJ
David Siu (above) says Hong Kong's core values have been eroded since the administration of Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's first post-colonial lader. Photo: HKEJ

‘Ting Hai effect’ character: It’s not all about stocks

Remember David Siu of the The Greed Of Man fame?

If you have a vague memory of him, you’re not alone.

The popular TVB drama that became a 1990s cultural phenomenon and inextricably linked to the stock market last aired as an original series in November 1992. (There have been occasional replays.) 

Siu left TVB two years later and has mainly lived in mainland China since 2008.

But the show, which fathered the “Ting Hai effect”, described as a sudden and unexplained drop in the stock market whenever a film or a television series starring its main antagonist is released, is enjoying a rerun thanks to recent upheavals in the Hong Kong stock market.

Siu plays Ting How-hai, the eldest son of Ting Hai, the main antagonist portrayed by Adam Cheng.

But Siu’s recent public reappearance had nothing to do with the show and everything to do with China.

He had a mouthful about our giant neighbor to the north but perhaps none as dramatic as his first experience living in the mainland early in his first business venture.

“I was living in eastern China at the time. The air quality was horrendous,” he told the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

“One day, I woke up feeling my body couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to leave. I left my business to my staff.” 

Siu compared the Hong Kong and mainland mindsets, saying the former tends to set boundaries between what it can and cannot do.

In mainland China, the norm is to “do what we should never do”, he said.

“Hence, it is hard for Hong Kong people to adapt to this kind of culture and to deal with struggles.”  

He said Hong Kong government officials are too absorbed in politics and lack focus on social issues. 

“Otherwise, why would they send their children abroad instead of the mainland?” 

When Siu returned to Hong Kong in 2012, he was appalled by so-called “patriotic political parties”.

It was a time when even mainlanders were beginning to realize that the Chinese notion of patriotism was false, he said.

“Why do Hong Kong people have blind faith in it?”

But make no mistake. Siu supports China and hopes that it is doing well.

Still, he is amused by the findings of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing’s top think tank, that Shenzhen has surpassed Hong Kong in competitiveness.

“The central government needs ‘one country, two systems’ more than we in Hong Kong do. China has not succeeded in turning a single city into another Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s secret as a world-renowned financial center is its sound political and legal systems and the values of Hong Kong people, he said.

But he said these values have been eroded since the administration of Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first post-colonial leader.

Other Chinese cities consider Hong Kong a spoiled child, he said, adding Hong Kong officials simply do not understand the art of politics and compromise.

“We have to remind ourselves that we are Hongkongers and we are capable of extraordinary achievements.”

He said young Hong Kong people should come out and voice their opinions but not overreact.

“Take the Umbrella Movement, for example. Why wouldn’t the participants just come and go?”

Hong Kong people should stay smart and flexible and take a few steps back when things do not work out and start over again, he said.

Finally, he couldn’t let the opportunity pass without a word about the craziness in the stock market.

“This is the era of big data. Investments are no longer investments. They are mere speculations.”

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 18.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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David Siu (center) plays a stock speculator in this still from the 1990s TVB drama The Greed Of Man. Photo: HKEJ

David Siu (left) has given up his mainland business and is seeking better opportunities in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ writer