Dodgy deal shows capitalism's dark side

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 23 Oct 2020

A mysterious Hong Kong company sold anti-virus equipment to UK government buyers for a staggering mark-up, the UK's Times newspaper reported this week.

Ninhao International sold 100 ventilators for 48,000 each (HK$480,000) to the National Health Service, for a total bill of 4.8 million.

But reporters found that the exact same model could be bought elsewhere for just 2,714.

That's the dark side of capitalism.

The British should have asked for some of the free ventilators China was giving out.

* * *

The most shocking thing about the Cathay Pacific layoffs on Wednesday was the statement by boss Augustus Tang Kin-wing that the move will lower the airline's "cash burn" to only HK$1 billion a month. You know you're in trouble when losing a billion bucks a month is the good news.

* * *

With great timing, Bill Wong Cho-bau started hiring people for his new company, Greater Bay Airlines - there can be no clearer signal about where Hong Kong's future lies.

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Like most Hongkongers, I have been to Revenue Tower in Wan Chai dozens of times - but yesterday was the first time I noticed an office dealing with torture tucked between the tax department and the post office. We must urgently file a claim on behalf of ParknShop employees who have to listen to the Y-U-U song thousands of times a day.

* * *

Journalist Tom Fowdy was yesterday puzzled about why a freshly launched news website about Africa mentioned China so often, and so negatively. At the AfricaVerified website, the first four headings on its World News section are Abuse, China, Human Rights and Uygurs.

A bit of digging gave the answer - the website is paid for by the American government, he discovered. "It appears the US government is launching a full blown propaganda war against China's role on the African continent," Tom said.

* * *

Peter Bentley, 72, died on Monday. The British businessman worked in Hong Kong for four decades, but found sudden fame last July 2. A TV crew found him outside the freshly vandalized Legislative Council Complex and the video clip of his passionate outburst went viral on both sides of the border, attracting more than 15 million views.

Earlier this year, he was locked up for a month in China's tough but efficient anti-virus lockdown and reported regularly to this newspaper, giving us the inside story. Rest in peace, Peter.

* * *

From yesterday, the postal service from Hong Kong to Malaysia went back 70 or 80 years. All airmail was canceled because of the lack of flights.

You can still send letters there, but they will travel overland and then by ship to the nearest Malaysian harbor town. It's the Covid effect.

I really think we should all go back to riding horses to work.

* * *

HSBC's bronze lions Stephen and Stitt were ceremonially reinstated yesterday after being trashed and burned by rioters. The last time they were taken away and ceremonially returned was in 1945 - and triggered a period of peace and prosperity for Hong Kong. Gods: please repeat.

One example: That was when a man called Wu Chung bought a bunch of cars - and became the father of the Hong Kong red taxi business. Today there are 18,000 taxis, and between them do close to a million rides a day.

Thank you, good luck lions.

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