A Government press release claims his appointments comply with the 6-board rule - but we count 8 - and a 9th was quietly dropped. He also finds time to hold down 10 other non-executive directorships.

Moses Cheng's appointments
19 July 2009

Browsing through last week's government press releases, as one does, we stumbled across a release on 14-Jul-09 titled "Moses Cheng's appointments", which says:

"In response to media enquiries about the number of government advisory bodies on which Mr Moses Cheng is serving, a government spokesman said today (July 14) that Mr Cheng had been appointed to serve on six government boards and committees...His recent appointments are in full compliance with the six-board rule."

Actually a government spokesperson didn't say that, because the spokesperson doesn't exist - the Government's spin department just does the "make-believe spokesperson" thing when they want to write something in a press release without actually having to produce a real person who might later be held accountable and might have to answer difficult questions from inquisitive journalists. So whenever you see or hear a report that "a Government spokesperson said", what they almost always mean is "a Government press release stated..."

But back to the point - how many Government appointments does Moses Cheng Mo Chi hold? Our database will tell you that the Government is being economical with the truth. Apart from the 6 appointments the Government listed, he is also a Government-appointed director of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (0388) and the Chairman of the Ma Wan Park Advisory Committee (otherwise known as the Noah's Ark Advisory Committee), to which he was jointly nominated by the Government and the developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. So that makes 8 appointments by our count.

He was also re-appointed on 1-Sep-07 for 2 years as a member of the Aviation Development Advisory Committee (ADAC), but seems to have stepped down from that, although we cannot find any announcement of it. Indeed, the internet archive shows him on the committee "As at 1 September 2007" in a web page updated on 3-Dec-07 and captured on 10-Feb-08. But if you look at the live page now, you will see that "As at 1 September 2007" he wasn't there. The incredible vanishing Moses - then you see him, now you don't. The erasure of his name is the only committee difference between the two versions of the web page, which was (according to the page) last updated on 12-Jun-09. That was 2 days after he was appointed to Chair the Advisory Committee on Post-office Employment for Former Chief Executives and Politically Appointed Officials (ACPEFCEPAO). There, he replaced Justice Flip-flop Pang Kin Kee.

Perhaps the Government took him off ADAC to put him on ACPEFCEPAO, in the classic committee-shuffling they do. They only have a small circle of trusted people to run these committees, so they are constantly reshuffling them in an attempt to stay within their own guidelines of 6-year terms and not more than 6 committees per person - as soon as someone reaches a term limit on one committee, she gets appointed to another.

Holy Moses is God's gift to committees - he also manages to hold down non-executive directorships at 9 other HK-listed companies in addition to HKEx. Those 10 directorships currently put him in joint-5th spot for the largest number of directorships of HK-listed companies. And we almost forget to mention that he also sits on the board of the manager of Cheung Kong's Fortune REIT in Singapore.

Incidentally, if the Government claims that HKEx doesn't count towards the quota of appointments, then keep in mind that the government has de facto control of the board - only a minority of its directors are elected by shareholders (6 out of 13), the Chairman has to be approved by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and the HKEx Chief Executive (who gets an unelected directorship thrown in) has to be approved by the SFC. And if they say that Ma Wan Park doesn't count, then keep in mind that the HK$700m project was built on Government land (they get a 21-year lease) with taxpayer's money, because the cost of it was deducted from the land premium which SHKP had to pay for the nearby Park Island residential project (groovy website music, by the way - it sounds like the New Seekers on Prozac). Perhaps the Government will also set aside cash and land for Muslim and Hindu theme parks, and one for atheists (who probably comprise the fastest-growing religion on earth) to even things out.

© Webb-site.com, 2009

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