Sunday, October 23, 2011

Is it OK to accept donations from Jimmy Lai?

Some have criticized Cardinal Joseph Zen for accepting donations from Jimmy Lai.  Jimmy Lai is the publisher of Apply Daily (蘋果日報), and the “free” Sharp Daily (爽報).  Because Apply Daily and Sharp Daily often publish photographs and articles with sexually explicit content, many people would not want to be associated with him.  Hence the criticism of Cardinal Zen for accepting donations from a man of such dubious character. 

Personally, I do not like this aspect of Apply Daily, and I blame Jimmy Lai for it.  But I would not criticize people who feel it is OK to accept his donations.  The situation may be similar to the situation of something like the Jockey Club.  It promotes gambling, which causes many social problems.  But many people accept the donations from Jockey Club.  Perhaps they take the position that some good may still come out of something bad? Or: the bad has already happened, we might as well try to do some good from the proceeds?  I don’t really know. 

In fact, I don’t know which is worse.  To publish sexually explicit material or to promote gambling.  Both are lawful.  Both are morally offensive and both cause social problems.  The turnover of the Jockey Club is a staggering HK$ 129 billion in 2010-11.  The Jockey Club has a monopoly on gambling in Hong Kong.  Hence it can be said to be largely responsible for much of the social problems caused by gambling. 

On the other hand, Apply Daily is only one of the many major newspapers that publish sexual content.  The “free” Sharp Daily, is also only one of many, albeit possibly the most explicit.  It does not excuse Jimmy Lai from the responsibility, of course.  But their impact may not be that high.  

So what is worse?  Accepting donations from Jimmy Lai?  Or the Jockey Club?

I just do not think it is such as a bad thing for Cardinal Zen to accept the donations from Jimmy Lai and to use them for good causes.  Given the sensitive situation of some of the people that he has been helping, it is perhaps not appropriate to make public all the details.  Among the people in the public eye, he is probably one of the most respected and trusted.  He is accountable to the Salesian Brothers, the Catholic Church, and ultimately, to God.

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