Jimmy Lai: the Hong Kong media tycoon that China loathes

first_imgTopics : “If it comes, I will have the opportunity to read books I haven’t read. The only thing I can do is to be positive.”Few Hong Kongers generate the level of vitriol from Beijing that Lai does.For many residents of the semi-autonomous city, he is an unlikely hero — a pugnacious, self-made tabloid owner and the only tycoon willing to criticize Beijing.But in China’s state media he is a “traitor”, the biggest “black hand” behind last year’s huge pro-democracy protests and the head of a new “Gang of Four” conspiring with foreign nations to undermine the motherland. Prosecutions and payback Lai is no stranger to arrest.Along with dozens of prominent pro-democracy activists, he is facing separate prosecutions both for taking part in last year’s protests and for defying police to attend a banned Tiananmen vigil on June 4.Before the new security law was passed, Chinese state media often accused him of colluding with foreigners, especially after he had a meeting last year with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice-President Mike Pence.During AFP’s interview Lai described the proposed security law as “a death knell for Hong Kong”.”It will supersede or destroy our rule of law and destroy our international financial status,” he said.He also feared for his journalists.”Whatever we write, whatever we say can be subversion, can be sedition,” he predicted.His two primary titles — the Apple Daily newspaper and the digital-only Next magazine — openly back democracy protests in a city where competitors either support Beijing or tread a far more cautious line.The two publications have been largely devoid of advertisements for years as brands steer clear of incurring Beijing’s wrath, Lai plugging the losses with his own cash.But they are popular, offering a heady mix of celebrity news, sex scandals and genuine investigations such as a recent series looking at how the houses of some senior police officers violated building codes.Lai said he was determined to stay in Hong Kong even once the security law came in.”The only thing we can do is persist, not to lose spirit or hope,” he said. “And to think that what is right will eventually prevail.”Asked why he risked both his wealth and freedom by criticizing Beijing and publicly supporting Hong Kong’s democracy movement, he replied: “I’m a troublemaker.”I came here with nothing, the freedom of this place has given me everything. Maybe it’s time I paid back for that freedom by fighting for it.” ‘It feels right’Like many of Hong Kong’s tycoons, Lai rose from poverty.He was born in mainland China’s Guangdong province into a wealthy family but they lost it all when the communists took power in 1949. Smuggled into Hong Kong aged 12, Lai toiled in sweatshops, taught himself English and eventually founded the hugely successful Giordano clothing empire.But his path diverged from those of his contemporaries in 1989, when China sent tanks to crush pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.He founded his first publication shortly after and penned columns regularly criticizing senior Chinese leaders.Authorities began closing his mainland clothing stores, so Lai sold up and ploughed the money into a tabloid empire.Asked why he didn’t just keep quiet and enjoy his wealth like Hong Kong’s other tycoons, Lai replied: “Maybe I’m a born rebel, maybe I’m someone who needs a lot of meaning to live my life besides money.” A rags-to-riches millionaire, media tycoon Jimmy Lai is a self-styled “troublemaker” who has been a thorn in Beijing’s side for decades thanks to his caustic tabloids and unapologetic support for democracy.Lai’s arrest on Monday under a new national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong will come as little surprise to observers, including the publisher himself, who said he knew he would be a prime target.”I’m prepared for prison,” the 71-year-old told AFP from the offices of Next Digital, Hong Kong’s largest and most rambunctiously pro-democracy media group, in an interview two weeks before the security law was enacted on 30 June. last_img read more

Landlords from hell

first_imgHealth hazard homes and landlords without boundaries are just some of the problems these tenants have to deal with.Leasing property is a two-sided affair and while nightmare tenants have received plenty of column inches, maniacal landlords are overstepping the mark as well.Anthony Ziebell, founder of Dontrentme.com, started the site after he was unable to get a landlord to fix his oven for six-months, despite all efforts.“I couldn’t cook any food,” he said.Anthony Ziebell created Dontrentme.com to help tenants avoid problem landlords.When it came time to move he realised that, unlike landlords and property managers who had access to tenant “blacklists”, there were no resources for renters to identify a bad owner.“I thought that if it’s good for them to have this and they’ve already got it — and fair enough, they need it — then it’s good for tenants too.”Mr Ziebell said his site allowed landlords a right of reply, and if they could show a review was false, it was taken down.“There are thousands of reviews on there and maybe only about 20 of them have been removed.“We want truthful reviews on the site. We want its integrity for the tenants … so they can believe what they find on the site and find it useful themselves.”Mr Ziebell said most tenant complaints revolved around three areas — maintenance, bond disputes and unlawful access.UNBELIEVABLEMr Ziebell said his most memorable bad landlord story was from Newtown, Sydney.A gentleman was working in the garden shed when he suddenly heard screams from his wife who was having a shower.“He rushes inside to find her covering herself with a towel and the landlord standing there in the bathroom,” he said.“Basically, he let himself into the house because he thought nobody was home.”Renting from this landlord was like starring in a Hitchcock filmMr Ziebell also came across a tenant who was dealing with an open sewer pipe that would back up whenever the WC was used.The landlord gave the tenant some advice on how to overcome the problem.More from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home4 hours agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor4 hours ago“‘Well … don’t use toilet paper.’ That was his solution — don’t use toilet paper and it won’t back up!”Mr Ziebell was so shocked, he filmed the horror house and interviewed the tenant for posting online.Some of the other head-turning, bad-landlord complaints on Dontrentme include:“Mould everywhere. Black mould too, that just grows on everything. I had to throw away almost all of my furniture, books, shoes and towels/linen. Spiders everywhere. And possums! Possums that live in the roof cavity between the house and the unit, Possums that chew through the roof, leaving big holes. You know that feeling when you *know* someone’s watching you? So you turn around from the tv to find a pair of beedy possum eyes staring at you from a roof hole. Unnerving. The possums like to chew through the electrical wiring in the place, so you’d have power outtages and arcing from time to time. The guy from Energex said it was a death trap. Especially for those poor possums. Occasionally one would electrocute himself chewing a tasty wire, and the place would reek for months (sic).”Can we change channel now? “The house is split in half with your landlord on the back half of your flat, but please be warned the landlord basically lives with you, every day, all day and at all times of day that she deems necessary. she will be knocking, tapping and yelling on door and at your windows for you to complete chores for her or simply give her attention and listen to her rant. Unfortunately due to the fact that she has your bond you feel obliged to do whatever is requested and within my first two weeks living with her, she became my second job that I had to tend to every night when I got home. If you do not comply or get back to her multiple messages on phone and handwritten abusive notes left at your front door she acts like an ex girlfriend from hell, only because you haven’t responded to such abuse within a few hours (sic).”“*** privately rents her home out to individual people. It seems like a good deal at first — 160pw for a room with all utilities included, even Internet, but that’s until you move in and she brings you “the contract”. No alcohol, no swearing, no scary movies or movies that involve witchcraft or any form of supernatural activity, no significant others to be in the house without being introduced to her first, and certainly not there late at night or for sleepovers. She also likes to let herself into the property (with her children) whenever she feels like. She once snuck in and stole my computer while I was in the shower because my rent payment didn’t clear on time, before even telling me she hadn’t received the payment … (sic).”“the landlord dropped off a occupancy agreement which if we had signed would of meant he held the rights to enter any room of the house without notice, he could request us to leave our room at any time without notice. even had a point using the term “undesirable person” in terms of reason for eviction. and it said if we had someone stay a single night we could be evicted without notice and our bond (sic).”“My family and i became very sick very quickly and were living with a foul smell coming from ensuite. Upon further investigation in the subfloor our friend found waste pipe with no connection to sewer, a huge swamp and rotted wet timber. We paid for a building inspector, toxicologist and hygenist all to investigate. All 3 took samples and ran air tests the results were unbelievable. House contains very high levels of toxic mould (penicillian) and settled spores all of which has permeated through floor and walls resulting in continuing illnesses inc hospital for pneumonia, cysts, migraines, blistered skin and lots more. Sadly We have also lost everything we own due to contamination (sic).”HOAX REVEALED ON LANDLORD-INSTALLED COIN-OPERATED TOILETFollow Kieran Clair on Twitter here @kieranclairlast_img read more

Lakers’ Thomas Robinson filling in for Larry Nance Jr. nicely

first_imgAs much as Robinson has focused on the ball, he has not paid attention to the numbers because of the team’s persistent losing. Robinson also said he has not looked at the upcoming calendar. On Jan. 10, Robinson’s one-year contract becomes fully guaranteed if the Lakers retain him.“I just control when my name gets called and then I go play. That’s all I got to do.” he said. “I’m coming in early, leaving late and being supportive of my team. As far as the decisions the front office makes, I have no control over that.”The odds appear high he will stick considering his production and Nance’s absence. Though Nance has recently worked out on a weight-bearing treadmill, the Lakers expect him to miss four more weeks.Lakers coach Luke Walton described Robinson as “a beast on the glass” and Nance said he provides “100 percent energy nonstop.”“That guy can go. I know that’s supposed to be my thing. But he makes my head spin sometimes,” Nance said. “He works so hard and is on top of the game plan. He fits in with what we’re trying to do, being able to plug in and switch onto those guards and guard bigger guys. Having him as a plug-in has been great.” LOS ANGELES >> The basketball has stayed within Thomas Robinson’s eyesight whenever he has stepped on the court.The Lakers forward has not narrowed his focus on that round, leather object so he can throw it into the rim. He has looked at anticipating what a teammate or an opponent might do with it.“I’m not a scorer. It’s like when you lose one sense, the other becomes stronger,” Thomas said, laughing. “That’s how it is for me with basketball. I have a sense of when guys get ready to shoot for my team. I pretty much know what move they’re going to do before they shoot.”As a result, the Lakers (12-23) enter Thursday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks (9-23) at Staples Center with Robinson becoming an effective backup as Larry Nance Jr. has missed the previous four games with a bone bruise in his left knee. Robinson has averaged 8.8 rebounds during that stretch while also averaging 7.3 points on 72 percent shooting. Robinson provided that impression to the Lakers starting with informal summer workouts.“He quickly showed how hard he works and how hard he plays every time he plays basketball,” Walton said of Robinson, the No.5 pick in the 2012 draft who did not last long in stints with Sacramento, Houston, Portland, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. “He filled a reputation for himself at least in my eyes right off the bat. Through his hard work and the way he competed on the floor in training camp, he earned a spot on the team.”So much that Walton has not eased Lakers forward Tarik Black back into the lineup from a right ankle injury. The Lakers have credited Robinson for providing vocal leadership, including when he addressed the team about its poor play during a practice earlier this month in Philadelphia.“I want to be a leader on a team,” Robinson said. “It fits into my play and who I am as a person. Coach is allowing me to have a voice. It’s everything that’s made me feel comfortable.”Robinson said he also has set goals that apply to his mental and physical growth. Although he respectfully declined to share specifics, Robinson said “we’re on the right track.”“I’m on a mission as far as getting back to a certain level in my game and confidence and respect level from people around the league, starting with the (Lakers) organization,” Robinson said. “That’s all it is. I’m just trying to take it day by day.”That could lead toward Robinson providing that same approach after Jan. 10, even if he insisted he has not thought about that date. Instead, he says he remains consumed with focusing on the ball so he can grab more rebounds.Strengthening the portfolioIn a move that has both strengthened his muscles and his wallet, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram recently partnered with BiPro, a whey protein isolate brand.The company said its water has 20 grams of protein, zero grams of sugar, zero grams of fat, zero grams of carbohydrate and 90 calories per bottle. Ingram consulted Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco before committing to BiPro.Since then, Ingram has consumed the drink before workouts.“It keeps my body up and makes my body feel good,” Ingram said. “Overall the product is pretty good. I also like the taste of it, so it’s a big plus for me.” center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more