Cathy Odgers: Kim Dot-who?

by Cathy Odgers / 10 November, 2012
Only in Hong Kong could the Megaupload founder fly under the radar.
Cathy Odgers

As the New Zealand Parliament On Air-funded Kim DotRomCom show rolls on, an important question remains: how did the man-mountain escape media attention in Hong Kong? He apparently lived here from 2003 to 2010. It’s supposedly where he changed his name and founded Megaupload. It’s also where he was fined HK$8000 ($1250) for share-trading offences. For the eight years I have been here, most people have been oblivious to his existence. It says a lot about the city. You would think a large loud free-spending expat would stop traffic. Granted, political donations are anonymous, but few would quite believe the lack of spotlight on the man. Until they visit.

Hong Kong, it is true, is a petridish for the wealthy to prove they are stark raving bonkers. This makes it a perfect hideaway for a night owl who spent his spare time making movies of himself screaming into a red megaphone at passersby and smashing plastic seats in gaming arcades. Exhibits: Sun Hung Kai Properties, a publicly listed property-developing monster. In the past year all three of the deceased founder’s children have been arrested on bribery allegations. To outsiders, it appears the company is controlled by the men’s elderly mother, but this doesn’t seem to prevent constant bickering that would give Gina Rinehart’s family a run for their money. The remarkable thing is the stock price fell just 15% as a result of this soap opera.

Casino tycoon Stanley Ho, meanwhile, has had so many children with different women that his family tree covered a double-page newspaper spread. The diagram appeared when – you guessed it – the siblings started fighting for control of the business. Then there is bachelor Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, self-proclaimed bedder of 10,000 women. He offered HK$500 million to any man who could turn his lesbian daughter straight. Far from being mortified, daughter and partner have laughed it off. If they’re offended, it seems to be because the bounty was too low. I cannot leave out the deceased Nina Wang. She believed so strongly in feng shui that all the lawyers participating in distributing her wealth have become multimillionaires arguing whether her adviser was worth the HK$2 billion consulting fees paid while she was alive, let alone the billions more he got once she was dead.

These people have no reported drug or alcohol issues. They are all just rich and nuts. There are many others like them. There is no weekday long-lunch culture here – instead we have champagne brunches. On Saturdays, Hullett House, a reconditioned stucco former Marine Police HQ, hosts all-you-can-drink Veuve Clicquot sessions from 11am to 3pm. If you survive that, on Sunday the Mira Hotel serves an array of food and more bubbles from noon to 3pm. Both cost less than the price of a bottle. For health reasons, I limit my attendance at these occasions, but still take special visitors. Hong Kong lacks a local drinking culture, but it is considered beneficial for all concerned for expats and tourists to be left alone to go hell for leather, and double that during the Rugby Sevens. So once again, Kim Dotcom? You can see why when he jumped and screamed “waaaaaa” here in Hong Kong no one noticed. Perhaps that’s why he moved to New Zealand.

Cathy Odgers is a New Zealand lawyer who lives in Hong Kong and is the author of the Cactus Kate blog.
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