Hong Kong–Shortly before his appointment as Hong Kong’s development minister, Paul Chan Mo-po joked about his long-term ambitions, telling media “one day is already a long time in politics.” In hindsight, he had no idea just how right he was.
Chan may have been answering rumors that he would quickly abandon the development portfolio to serve as Hong Kong’s deputy finance minister, but a mere day after entering the development post in late July, the trained accountant found himself under investigation by his own department.
His case was only the latest chip in the Hong Kong elite’s once-pristine image, which has been hard hit at a crucial time for the former British colony. As the island struggles to define its relationship with mainland China, it is also gearing up to directly elect its chief executive for the first time in 2017 and its legislature in 2020.
While international media focused on hot news surrounding Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and Kashmir during the United Nations General Assembly that closed in New York Tuesday, another story was unfolding outside the East River compound.
Throngs of diplomats, an estimated 50,000 this year, filled midtown for the annual meeting. Sleek Mercedes Benz sedans with diplomatic plates were parked two-deep around the city’s swish landmark hotels; the Plaza, the Pierre and the Waldorf-Astoria.
The New York Palace Hotel, where suites run anywhere from $900 to $9,000 a night for a lavish triplex, was ringed with limousines displaying the flag of Benin, where three out of four citizens live on less than $2 a day.
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