Often Partisan

Hong Kong: My Reflections

Having spent a week out in Hong Kong along with Matthew from Tilton Strugglers and OP reader SwissJonny I thought it would now be pertinent having returned to reflect on it all.

I think I have to start with the obvious. Hong Kong is a long, long way away and I don’t think I had fully grasped the whole distance thing until I had to travel it. The reporters I met in the court room couldn’t help but admit their surprise that we had travelled out there for the case and indeed we were mentioned on the first day in court when the defence counsel read their submission out “for the benefit of the international press”. There was very little knowledge of Birmingham City or what has happened to the club in the last few years amongst either the press corps or the locals we spoke to and from talking to the expatriate press I got the impression that they thought people in HK not only didn’t know about Blues but wouldn’t have cared if they did.

There is media interest in the case, but it’s part of a wider issue in HK about the crackdown on corruption. When I asked the reporters who were covering the trial why they were covering it the answer was almost universally because Carson owned a football club. They weren’t bothered with specifics – it was just that owning a football club made Carson slightly higher profile and thus a big case for the judiciary to win. As I’ve mentioned before I don’t think any form of protest here would be picked up by the press in HK, which is a shame because I think the only real media pressure that Carson Yeung and Peter Pannu feel is from the HK media.

It’s difficult to comment on the court case itself as I don’t want to be seen to prejudice the outcome of the case and thus get myself into trouble. The impression I’ve got is that the prosecution have built a strong case against Carson and I think it will take every bit of tactical nous from Carson’s excellent defence counsel to beat the charges; Carson is in the rather unfortunate position that unlike any other charges, the ones he’s facing rather force him to prove his own innocence than the prosecution to prove his guilt and I suspect that could be very difficult.

I also got the impression from the various BIH people I spoke to that there is a boardroom battle going on at BIH, with two very distinct factions. Whilst I did make contact with the one side it’s not the case that Matthew and I didn’t try to make contact with Peter Pannu and Carson Yeung whilst we were out there; messages were left with intermediaries offering to hear Carson’s side of the story and we also went to the head office of BIH to seek an appointment with Mr Pannu or any other executive willing to talk. It’s certainly their prerogative to not want to speak to us but I would reiterate to them both that in the interests of balance I am willing and prepared to speak via email or phone to either or both and to publish their full unedited replies on here without comment.

I can only speak for myself but I don’t think that we can necessarily pick a side in this battle; there are reasons to trust and to distrust both sides and I am definitely of the belief that they are acting in their own interests which may not coincide with the best interests of Blues fans. One of the things I intend to do now that I have returned is to take the information garnered and use it as the basis of researching further what has happened at BIH and to try to make some sense of why the parent company is in the state it is in. I must confess this is one area that the trip has been a success as I have obtained information whilst out in HK I could not have got here in the UK and it has opened a whole new avenue of enquiry.

One of the other main reflections I have is that the whole problem is one that is very different to what we are used to here in the UK. It seemed painfully obvious to me that business is conducted in a different way out there and I had constant reminders of how important “face” was in Chinese culture. In Mong Kok, I saw a brilliant example of this in the underground station where an old man was begging for money in the middle of the walkway, bowl thrust out in front of him but eyes firmly fixed on the floor. I could feel the sense of shame that his life had been reduced to this and he couldn’t look anyone in the eye because of the shame he felt. Similarly, I get the impression that a lot of the issues Carson is facing now is down to him losing face by being charged with money laundering and the consequent ostracization this has caused him – certainly, the issues with respect to Liu Xingcheng seem to relate to Mr Liu deciding that he no longer wanted to be associated with Carson.

If I was asked if the trip was success I think I would have to be cautiously optimistic. I’m happy that I have made enough contacts and collected enough information to keep me going and looking for answers when previously I felt like I had hit brick walls. However, a lot depends on what happens in the next few weeks as to whether the trip was ultimately a success or not as it is too early to judge at this moment in time. One thing is for certain is that I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go and I once again must thank the OP readers who have supported me and Swissjonny in particular for making it possible.

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46 Responses to “Hong Kong: My Reflections”

  • Thaiblue says:

    Well done OP.I cant help feel that all this CY stuff is very similar to Our man from Thailand…remember his purchase of Man City?Within a very short time he sold out to people who he now lives with!He is a wanted man in Thailand and was asked to prove what money he had in Thailand and else where..the money went to MC…then back out and now lives in the Middle East.Money moving around all over.Here in SE asia people just look the other way.Lots of dodgy deals.This will never be gotten down to the last detail and I see no future of CY and Blues together.Any deal for him to get ANY of his money back will have to be brown bag stuff!..Anyway 12th/top half is a result after what we have been through.Next season will be interesting im sure the Club will be kept alive only to get some dosh back.Thanks for all your hard work and keeping me up to date with all things Blues.Good luck for next year for OP and all at Blues.KRO

  • Vas says:

    So where’s the pictures?

  • Gary says:

    Thanks to you and Mathew for making the effort to find out some info about the Blues and the shennanigan`s at BIHL. You have been doing a stirling job trying to find out the truth behind the rumours that have been circulating without becoming embroiled with the said rumours. It is a shame you and Mathew could not be there for the AGM as it would have been interesting to get first hand information about he meeting and not some statement from Pannu, which I think could be the outcome.
    Anyway, thanks again for the info, OP is always a good source of news regarding the Blues and appreciate here in Oz.

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    :-)

    :-)

    Thank you AJ.

    Thanks to Tilton Strugglinng and Switzerland Jon

    Thank you also for the faciltations of the Evening Mail and the Blues Trust.

    Certainly a combined and organised venture, and whereas you, yourself may not be over happy about the success (or not) of the expedition. This reader certainly is….

    Happy :-)

    The contacts and future approaches you can now make will surely aid and smooth further research.

    The attitudes of the HK press, to a “football club owner” when compared to the actual club (and it’s difficulties) can not be stressed enough.
    Your visit has certainly exposed the near indifference in HK media to the average bluenose fears.
    And, I fear, that may be a value shared within BIHL and it’s top people.

    Another success.

    Nobody expected any of you to come back with Carson’s head on a spike, we –well most of us –just wanted straight reporting and factual data.

    You all gave us that. You have new seams of gold to mine and you have put into stark relief the fallacy of puerile boycotts and demo’s as having virtually little or no exposure in HK and even less with the people in power.

    What I was expecting, all of you delivered 100%.

    You have all done better than you think.

    Thank you.

    :-)

  • Art Watson says:

    Not surprised PP didn’t respond to your request for an interview.Its speaks volumes about the type of person you are dealing with and his lack of transparency.

    Well done to you all and keep up the pressure-information is power.

  • ChrisG says:

    While you were away Dan, Pannu posted this on the BCFC.com website, don’t know if you managed to check it out
    http://www.bcfc.com/news/article/a-statement-from-peter-pannu-806262.aspx

  • sutton apex says:

    well done on trip research – pannu must realise releasing the odd statement on club website is not enough to keep the fans happy. We as fans must join the trust and make it into a powerful 5000 + voice that must be heard – I joined months ago for a fiver
    WE WILL BECOME THE NEXT WOLVES IF WE DONT UNITE AND MAKE BIH REALISE THEY ANSWER TO US THE PAYING CUSTOMER

    • Thaiblue says:

      I was thinking the same yesterday,shame and when he was with us,was talked about getting an England call up- oh how life brings its up and down,down,downs!

  • AR says:

    You’re a diamond geezer almajir. Your reporting is the best of its kind.

  • OzzyBlue says:

    Just read the article posted by Peter Pannu as advised by Chris G. We can say what we like but it appears to me that Pannu is doing his best to keep the club viable until a new buyer is found. Anyone know who the interested Chinese party is? We don’t want to go from frying pan into fire do we? As for all the writs flying around every which way…we don’t, as fans, really need to know all about them now do we? That’s personal business if you’re not happy with past directors and you think they are defaming you. Getting mired in writs and counter-writs takes the eye off of football. Lee Clark & co need to be free to focus on planning next season’s campaign…please.
    Welcome back from Honkers Dan & team; great work.
    PS: BCFC IS solvent, isn’t it Messrs. auditors?

    • KeepRightcroydOn says:

      Yes PP is doing his best to keep the club afloat. Whether it’s motivated by self-interest, a love for the club, other agendas or a combination of these I can’t say. His statement is typically bullish, but what is interesting is what he has not said. That is, what it is he has exactly done to warrant such high payments directly or indirectly to him, fees that far more wealthier clubs do not pay their directors.

      I believe he still has a lot of explaining to do. Catch all terms such as ‘pocket expenses’ lack transparency. Itemisation of these costs and what they are for would be a good start.

      • mark says:

        I feel PP is correct that if there is so much s**t is flying around and mis-quotes , and their are internal legal wrangles going on in the back ground.. Equally he will be advised also dont you think so……So unfortunately most things will be said on need to know basis in his opinion through bcfc.

  • thongs says:

    For all the bluster on here and from the Blues Trust, the only real impact that I can see that has been made is that season ticket holders have been given a reason not to renew. This blog and the Trust will ultimately cause harm and division and the club will suffer more.

    Hang your heads in shame.

    • almajir says:

      If I’m honest Thongs I think that is a disingenuous argument.

      I would rather report the truth and let people know what is happening than sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending all is dandy.

      Furthermore, have either the trust or myself told people not to buy STs? If it helps I can confirm I will renew because I support the club not the board and I feel the pain we are suffering now will only be short term. If people decide they don’t want to renew its their decision, I can’t tell them to do it or not.

      • thongs says:

        You may renew but many won’t. And they will site reasons such as the “secret deal”. Will you and the Trust then accept some responsibility for this?

        • thongs says:

          And while i’m at it why isn’t there an edit button to correct my poor spellings? :-)

          welcome home by the way.

          • KeepRightcroydOn says:

            thongs, with due respect your comments are unfair on groundless. These reports are just the sort of thing we need to know because we’re not getting much information from the board or media. All fans need to know how their club is being run.
            Maybe a very small minority of fans will not renew STs on reading this, or maybe it won’t make an ounce of difference. Equally they may or may not renew if they are kept in the dark. We have no way of knowing either way, which is way I say your assertion is groundless.

        • almajir says:

          Accept responsibility for what?

          I refer you to my original point. I also ask you if it’s my fault that Pannu took so much money out of the club?

          Honestly, people complain that there isn’t enough work done on finding out what is happening and then when some is done people complain that it shouldn’t have been looked at cos it’s not good. One cannot win…

          • thongs says:

            Of course its not your fault he took money. But to announce all this now at renewal time will only harm the club. And for that you are responsible.

          • almajir says:

            Again, I disagree.

            There is never a good time to “announce” bad news – there is always something that will be affected and there will always be naysayers who would rather keep their heads in the sand.

            Besides, it’s not like ST renewal prices have even come out yet… I suppose that’s my fault an’ all?

          • Ali Duncan says:

            You’re talking out of your ar*e there Thongs. If I were you I’d zip it before you make yourself look even more silly.

          • StaffsBlue says:

            I would think that 99% of people reading this blog will have the utmost respect and gratitude for everything you’ve reported on. I just ignore the ‘stick-your-fingers-in-your-ears-and-go-la-la-la’ brigade. I would suggest that you do too.

            Many many thanks for all your dogged reporting.

      • mark says:

        Dan he trying to get you going….it was his last day yesterday at the blues. Gosh i am filling up,……..another non – renewal….

        • BobbyBlue says:

          Great work Dan and thanks. Thongs you’re an idiot! I’d rather read OP tell us honestly how he sees it rather than feeding us crap or half truths to protect season ticket sales. That’s not the purpose of journalism but the BCFC marketing team.

    • RUPERT says:

      Go back to your apologists on SHA thogs where you and your sort belong. OP and the Trust are doing a fantastic job trying to expose wrongdoings connected with the club. You and your sort just want to make childish silly jokes. If people dont want to renew thats because of the pathetic boards running of the club and the fact many like me dont want there money going to fight court cases instead of going towards the team.
      Now go and make some sexist jokes on your sad SHA site

  • Jaffa says:

    Well done men.great commitment.shame you did’nt get to speak to pannu.now let’s just hope that they really are trying to sell our club.

  • IanB says:

    Last week, I listened to Channel 4’s veteran journalist Jon Snow talk about the relevance of Blogging to reporting. Your work proves his point – brilliant journalism Dan!

  • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

    Welcome back to almajir and Matt – your great efforts and dedication are much appreciated. Swissjohnny, thank you for helping your fellow Bluenoses to try and make sense of what is happening/ will happen to our club. If there is going to be an internal power struggle within BIH, Blues will be the ones to ultimately suffer. After all this is the true prize they are fighting for. All I hope is the winners try and establish a more transparent structure at the club and the losers are graceful enough to simply accept the result and walk away. But precedence tells us a different story. If CY goes down and is voted off the BIH Board, will he stil try to cultivate a sale? If they kick out PP from BIH as well, will he then take his “battle” to BCFC as he is still the ‘Acting Chairman’? PP seems to be under the impression (judging from his statement), that “ex-directors” are responsible for “leaking info and documents”. They may well be but what he did not do was rebuke what was said; he simply reverted to norm and spoke about legal proceedings. He even took a potshot at the Liu Xingcheng interview and said that the fella speaks no english so we could not know what he said. Obviously he has never come across interpreters or translators. Unfortunately the destinies of BCFC and BIHL are intertwined at this stage so we will have to take an interest in events over in HK whether we agree or otherwise. After a well deserved rest, I hope that agent almajir now has a few more tools to take on the mission of trying to unravel the complexities of who really owns what at our club.

  • tonyd says:

    Do you know if any Blues fans who hold shares in BCFC plan to make it to the AGM? Minor shareholders have little power, but can make life awkward at ARMs with some well targeted questions.

    Good work in HK, my old stomping ground. I hope you managed some good nights out.

  • motozulu says:

    Well done Mayor and don’t feed the troll (Thongs)

    Sadly we are no nearer any answers despite you and the others and the great digging you’ve done.

    I predict a long Summer for Blues.

  • Ali Duncan says:

    It sounds a worthwhile and productive trip. I’ve enjoyed the daily updates. Thank you all so much for your efforts.

    Lee Clark’s post match comments out austerity measures and a young team next year is worrying and exciting in equal measures but I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve.

    KRO.

  • oldburyblue says:

    There can be no doubt that you have already succeeded. A thorn is tiny compared with a bear…but put that thorn in the bear’s pad and see the results. Continue being that thorn!

    Well done and thank you.

  • Dodger says:

    comment removed on legal advice

  • Pa.ul Cart.er the happy with mid table voice of reason and calm he says:

    Thongs is the kind of bloke who goes dogging and gets turned down. Saying that I have no doubt he’ll renew as it’s in his blood same as me. Not easy to shake off for some of us.

    My thoughts on your trip Dan is that it had to be done. Someone had to go and get a feel of how the land lies over there and it’s just sad that no-one over there is that bothered about what’s happening to our beloved club. Well done for your efforts.

    That beggar wasnt Pannu trying to make a few more extra quid was it?

    Roll on the ST prices and Shamrock Rovers away.

  • Euston 9.18 says:

    Thanks for the reports from H`G.

    Are you allowed to tell us if either yourself or anyone else who reported from H`G have heard from P`P lawyer’s.

    Thx’s.

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Welcome back Dan. Nice work. Every bit of true information helps protect us against further ‘unfortunate’ dealings – just to stop making the same mistakes again and again is progress. Considering the sh**storm of the last two years, we haven’t done too bad.

    Maybe this site has become the replacement rudder for the good ship BCFC, so nearly on the rocks? There’s still a lot to build on next season. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  • StevieW says:

    You guys are professional beyond belief, excellent reporting and investigating. You are all what good investigative journalism is, keep it going.

    What a year as a Bluenose down to the darkest depths of desperation to the elation of survival.

    KRO and Mickey Mouse is a Bluenose

  • chudlt says:

    Thongs is a lone voice an completely out of touch with the majority of Season Ticket holders at St. Andrews.

  • Tony says:

    Elation of survival???? oh my god that sums up everything that is wrong with a few of you .

    • StevieW says:

      Tony it was meant as sarcasm but believe you me survival to stay in this league is worth elating when you think where we were all expecting to be the end of last year.

  • Keith Purdom says:

    Really appreciate all the effort to throw a light on what is happening to our club. The “bad Timing ” arguement makes no sense whatsovever–might as well blame the Chinese legal system for timing the court case when BCFC are hoping we will buy ST !!
    Amazing work THANK YOU

  • OzzyBlue says:

    Over here thongs are worn on the feet. Suggest that’s the best place for them.

  • Evesham blue says:

    OP is the place we all come to for info. You do a fantastic job and long may it continue. I think most people are intelligent enough to make their own minds up about ST renewal regardless of what happens on here.

    The off field crap is to blame and I don’t think it will be sorted anytime soon.

    In the meantime KRO. I am sure LC will build a squad capable of being competitive regardless


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