Hong Kong murders inspire banker backlash

By Judy Ngao, AFP

HONG KONG–The murder of two young Indonesian women in Hong Kong allegedly by a British expatriate has sparked a backlash against wealthy Western bankers accused of treating the financial hub as their own personal playground. The victims were found mutilated in 29-year-old Rurik Jutting’s upmarket apartment in Wanchai, streets away from the neon-lit bars of the neighborhood’s famous red-light district �X popular with expats and tourists at all hours. Jutting, who has been charged with the double murder and will next appear in court Monday, was a regular on the strip, and the reported discovery of sex toys and cocaine in his apartment have added to the debauched portrayal of the former Bank of America Merrill Lynch securities trader. The women’s brutal murders and the accusations against Jutting have touched a nerve, triggering criticism of privileged foreign workers in the city’s famous finance industry. ��Just like bankers anywhere, they earn top dollar without having many social responsibilities in Hong Kong,�� says C.H. Lo, 37, a jeweler who has lived in the city most of his life. ��Their disposable income and immoral lifestyle creates a demand for high-end drugs and prostitution.

��The Chinese believe the greatest virtue is to take care of one’s own parents when they grow old. But expat bankers generally display a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude.�� English and Chinese language social media in Hong Kong has lit up with criticism of the behavior of some Westerners in the wake of the killings. ��A lot of losers from the West think they are God once they come to Asia. Too bad they give all western expats a bad reputation,�� said one response to a news story of Jutting’s arrest posted online. ��Some expats get to Asia and develop a huge ego and superiority complex, thinking they are above the law, doing things they would never consider in their home countries,�� said another. Foreigners also expressed fear for their own reputation. ��Agree, expats should behave better, I can feel our reputation going down year after year because of these scumbags,�� one post said. Growing Divide With ongoing pro-democracy protests in the city spurred on by its increasing wealth disparity, there are also those who see well-paid bankers as part of that wider problem. Hong Kong has one of the largest wealth gaps in the developed world, and a fifth of the population lives in poverty, according to charity Feeding Hong Kong. ��Expat bankers are overpaid and that has contributed to the wealth gap,�� said 31-year-old media worker Maggie Ho. ��I think locals have been rather wary of bankers following the Lehman Brothers crisis,�� she added, referring to the 2008 collapse of the U.S. banking giant.