MR FRIEND STANLEY is the richest guy in the world. No joke. Consider this. I rent a small apartment. Bill Gates owns a house. Stanley Ho Hung-sun has his own COUNTRY. Suck on that, Mr Gates.
But I wouldn’t be Stanley Ho Hung-sun for all the tea in my grandma. If you think money buys happiness, read on. (Now when I used the word “friend” above, I meant it in the journalistic sense of “pest” or “stalker”, but I have met him several times, so this is a somewhat informed view.)
Mr Ho owns more of his quasi-country Macau (technically an autonomous zone) than any either tycoon owns of theirs, so in relative terms he IS the richest guy in the world.
Citizens grow up in his flats, work at his hotels, eat in his restaurants, lose their wages in his casinos and will be buried in the columbarium his firm is building, possibly sooner than they might expect.
The old patriarch recently decided to retire—and lawsuits started flying from various wives and children, who all want big slices of his empire.
All sorts of “wives” I had never heard of appeared.
(Illustration above shows people claiming to be former wives gathering outside Stanley’s house in Macau)
I was astonished. “Is everyone in Macau Mr Ho’s offspring?” I asked a reporter friend following the story.
“Of course not,” he replied. “Some are tourists.”
The Macau media has been carrying minute-by-minute reports on how the fortune is likely to be split.
It’s going to Wife One. No, Wives Three and Four. No, Wife Two, Child Eleven, and Dog Three. Etc. His casinos could probably offer this as a fun side-bet for gamblers.
The reporter told me that many stressed-out family members were staying up all night, alternately firing off love letters and lawsuits to other family members. What misery.
This reminded me about an inheritance puzzle in my kids’ mathematics book.
“Q: A rich man with a million dollars leaves his wife 50 per cent, his son 30 per cent and his daughter 20 per cent. What do they get?”
But the maths book failed to give the correct answer, which should be: “A lawsuit”.
Clearly, it’s better not to pass one’s wealth on.
When my father died, there were no arguments over his inheritance. There was just about enough to buy dinner. At McDonald’s. If we chipped in a bit extra for milkshakes.
Like my father, billionaire Warren Buffett is not passing on a fortune to his children, because getting money for nothing ruins one’s character, he says.
Following his lead, I warned my offspring: “You know, kids, I could have chosen to amass a fortune and leave it to you guys, but I opted not to, for the sake of your characters.”
My children thoughtfully took this on board, declaring: “Yeah right.”
But at least they’re not as bad as another friend of mine, whom I shall call Ricardo. His dad is old and rich. Whenever the old guy buys anything, Ricardo gets annoyed. “You’re spending my inheritance, Dad,” he complains. But the more he says this, the more the old man spends.
Eventually, Ricardo asked him why. The pensioner said: “I never liked spending my own money. But it’s kind of fun to spend someone else’s.” Ricardo shut up after that.