Casino magnate Pansy Ho is set to defend the actions of the Hong Kong government in response to recent city-wide protests in a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council this week – the first time one of Macau’s top casino executives has issued any definitive opinion on the issue.
Details of Ho’s speech, to be delivered on behalf of the Hong Kong Federation of Women in Geneva on Tuesday, were obtained by the South China Morning Post with the 57-year-old describing the controversial extradition bill that prompted the protests as “well-intended.”
Making reference to a high-profile 2018 murder case in which a Hong Kong citizen who fled back home after allegedly killing his girlfriend in Taiwan couldn’t be prosecuted, Ho will reportedly accuse radical protesters of hijacking the issue and using it as “propaganda to undermine the Hong Kong government’s authority to protect the rights of one of its citizens even in her death.”
Expressing concerns over the “damaging impact” the protests could have on Hong Kong in the long-term, she will also defend the actions of police in the wake of recent footage showing clashes with protesters and the use of 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,” Ho says in her speech. “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.”
While the South China Morning Post said it was unclear if the speech has been endorsed by Beijing, it represents a significant political move by Ho given that the re-tendering of Macau’s casino licenses is less than three years away.
One of the Macau gaming industry’s most influential figures, Ho is Co-Chairwoman and Executive Director of casino concessionaire MGM China, of which she holds a 22.49% stake, and a key member of the consortium that owns 53% of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, SA (STDM). STDM in turn owns 54% of SJM Holdings, another of Macau’s six concessionaires.
Ho is also Group Executive Chairman and Managing Director of Shun Tak Holdings, which owns ferry operator TurboJet and has interests in an array of business and residential developments across Macau. She is ranked number 10 on IAG’s Power 50 list of Asia’s most influential gaming executives.