Pansy Ho, Casino Billionaire, Will Defend Hong Kong Government Actions in UN Speech

Posted on: September 9, 2019, 08:35h. 

Last updated on: September 9, 2019, 01:12h.

Pansy Ho, chairwoman of Shun Tak Holdings, the Hong Kong real estate developer and Macau gaming holding company, is slated to defend the Hong Kong’s government’s actions against protesters there in a Tuesday speech before the United Nation Human Rights Council (HRC).

Pansy Ho is likely to make controversial remarks before the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday. (Image: Reuters)

Ho will be joined by Annie Wu Suk-ching, the daughter of James Tak Wu, the billionaire founder of Hong Kong’s most famous restaurant chain. The two women are speaking on behalf of the Hong Kong Federation of Women, a pro-government group, and are expected to describe the recent uprising as led by “radicals” and not reflective of the views of the majority of the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) residents.

The views of a small group of radical protesters do not represent the views of all 7.5 million Hongkongers,” Ho and Wu Suk-ching said in an advance copy of the speech on the UN Human Rights Council web site. “The systematic and calculated violent acts of this group have never been condoned by all Hongkongers.”

The geopolitical uprising in Hong Kong, which has spanned several months, was born out of protesters’ concerns about an extradition bill pushed by Beijing. That bill would have seen criminals from the SAR sent to mainland China, where the legal system is more complex and punishments are usually more severe.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently withdrew support for the bill. But the protests, now in its 14th week, turned violent Sunday, as small groups set fires and damaged subways. Others were seen barricading themselves along major thoroughfares in the downtown area. Media reports indicate tens of thousands of other dissidents demonstrated in peaceful fashion.

Macau Impact

Previously, some gaming analysts dismissed the goings-on in Hong Kong as having only a minor impact on Macau gross gaming revenue (GGR) in August. But when the monthly numbers were recently reported, they told a different story.

August GGR in the world’s richest gaming hub fell to $3.01 billion from $3.28 billion a year earlier, representing the third-worst month of 2019. Hong Kong is a pivotal access point for gamblers traveling to Macau, whether it’s by air or the 34-mile long bridge linking the two SARs. The protests have forced closures of Hong Kong International Airport.

With an estimated net worth of $4.3 billion, Ho ranks at No. 413 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. But much of that wealth is tied to Macau. She’s a major shareholder in MGM China and SJM, the company founded by her father, Stanley Ho, which controls three casinos on the peninsula. MGM China’s 2011 initial public offering (IPO) resulted in a windfall of $1.5 billion for the younger Ho,

Controversial Comments

Ho’s UN speech could potentially ignite controversy, as she accuses protesters of hijacking the extradition bill issue and using it to undermine the Hong Kong government. She also defends the police force’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas.

Tear gas and rubber bullets are tools used by police forces around the world, and are not unique to the Hong Kong police,” she’s expected to say in the remarks. “Used according to law enforcement procedures, tear gas and rubber bullets are an effective way to create a distance between the police and the protesters, and to avoid close physical confrontation and resulting injuries.”

The HRC is itself seen as controversial in some circles, as some of the group’s member states have spotty human rights records, including China and Venezuela, among others.