Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hong Kong inquest: Annie Pang

The coroner's inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death in 1995 of Annie Pang and the discovery of her skeletal remains in 1999 in a flat owned by John Fang, a lawyer and brother of former chief secretary Anson Chan, is drawing to a close.
In court, the tale that has emerged foregrounds money, power, class, frustrated dreams, loneliness, gender relations, social as well as sexual intercourse. In part, it is very much a story of Hong Kong in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Pang, a vivacious, working-class, moderately-educated, 18-year-old meets the much older, well-educated, well-connected and prosperous, but unhappily married Fang, a lawyer.

One plus one multiplied by the passions of desire? They click, the two become an item: Fang the lawyer and Pang a 'kept woman'. The arrangement is not an unusual custom among the well- and not so well-to-do hereabouts. Nevertheless, quite why is not clear but over time Fang loses or withdraws interest. The flames of passion have been reduced to embers and ashes?

Pang? She meets other men; tries a couple of business ventures, fails; gambles, gets into debt to loansharks. She occasionally hits Fang for money, a place to stay. Oh, and she does an increasing quantity and variety of prescription and street drugs. There are incidents of self-harm, overdoses, hospitalisations. Her own family cut off all contact with her.

In short, Pang spirals downwards as she trashes herself.

Sad, but nothing unusual there. Neither is the fact that lawyer Fang uses Pang as a proxy for property speculation:
Pang's guise as a property speculator was sketched out Tuesday in questioning by Mary Jean Reiner, a solicitor advocate for Pang's family, who tried to press Pang's former boyfriend John Fang about his ex-law firm's involvement in the deceased's real estate deals.
"Annie and I had many transactions - between two and 100, perhaps. If you prompt me, maybe I can remember," said Fang - a brother of former chief secretary Anson Chan - in his third and final day of testimony at the inquest.
Essentially, Reiner - whose queries were often reined in and recast by coroner Colin Mackintosh - was trying to prove that Fang used his long- time mistress as a front to flip property.
These included a flat in Jaffe Road bought in her name for HK$400,000 in 1988, mortgaged for HK$450,000, and later sold for HK$1.24 million.
"Did you use Annie as your front to purchase property to ease your cash flow," Reiner asked.
"It could be ... it could be," Fang replied. "I could have also given Annie some equitable shares. I can't be sure."
"Who was the actual owner?"
"Probably me," Fang replied.
"It was sold for HK$1.24 million. Where did all the profit go?"
"Most likely, Annie would have taken a share, but I can't remember. These things are very trivial," he replied.
When questioned about a 1991 deal involving the Golden Dragon building in Wan Chai, he said: "My staff arranged it for her. I might have also given her an equitable share."
Reiner also tried to press Fang on why Pang used his law firm's address as her home address in the Golden Dragon mortgage application.
"I think she just liked the address," Fang said. "And she didn't have a [permanent] address at the time."
Not everyone lived or lives like that but, like I said at the beginning, the tale is very much a story of Hong Kong in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

For a recapitulation (all Hong Kong Standard) :
Mystery of the missing condom 14/3/2006
Annie Pang lost her head naturally 11/3/2006
Fang tells of Annie's real estate deals 8/3/2006
Fang accused of fixing Pang's death 7/3/2006
Fang: I did not see girl's bones 4/3/2006
No-show lawyer faces court warrant 3/3/2006
Last boyfriend tells Pang inquest of breakup 2/3/2006
The "fattish" mystery man with a dog 1/3/2006
Questions hang over model's pals 28/2/2006
Guard tells of nasty smell at dead model's apartment 25/2/2006
Annie Pang died from taking drugs 23/2/2006
Inquest into model's death finally opens 21/2/2006

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