So the Mr. and I are out to dinner the other night and he begins to tell me about the dinner he had the night before with a colleague, who I had met before. In fact, not only had I met him, but I’d also met his super model wife and four super cute little kids before. Apparently, this exec had told the Mr. that he’s actually a polygamist–not only does he actively practice it, but he’s very involved in advocating for its return in China. He says that after thousands of years of this lifestyle, there’s no way that a couple of decades of altered social norms will have any effect on making men satisfied with just one woman for the rest of their lives. I don’t really see myself as the ‘easily threatened-type’, but this isn’t exactly the kind of guy you really want your husband having beers with!
The Mr.’s colleague is not a rarity here in China where multiple wives or mistresses are the standard trappings of the wealthy and powerful. Macau Casino magnate Stanely Ho’s four wives and 17 children are a tabloid institution here. Drama seems to constantly follow Ho; his first wife was killed in a car accident in 1973, and his eldest son and wife Melanie were killed in an another car accident. He is estranged from his sister Winnie, who accuses him of owing her money. Unsolved murders also seem to follow Ho, including those of his assistant who was found with a slit throat in a Hong Kong square.
According to Forbes magazine, in 2008, Stanley Ho was at 113th place among the world’s richest men with a fortune estimated at 8 billion dollars. In the past few years Ho has moved to transfer more power to his favoured wife Angela Leong, a savvy businesswoman and now a Macau legislator, and his daughter Pansy Ho.
Pansy is chief executive of her father’s listed company Shun Tak holdings. Her brother, Lawrence, runs Melco – the Hong Kong-listed company that his father brought for him – that is partner with James Packer’s PBL in Macau.
A fun Stanley Ho fact: Ho once bid and won a 1.5 kilo truffle for $330,000 dollars.
And a little background on polygamy in China / Hong Kong, courtesy of Wikiepdia:
- Polygamy was banned in HK in 1971–not so long ago!
- Communist Party Leader Mao (who founded the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949) created the “Marriage Law” in 1950 that banned polygamy and forbid child brides.
- Polygamy in China is considered to be a by-product of the tradition of emphasis on procreation and the continuity of the father’s family name.
- In Confucianism, the practice of taking concubines was allowed, but a man must have just reasons for doing so. For example, if his wife is not able to give birth to a son, he would be allowed to take a concubine. If a man wants more wives for sexual indulgence, it would be unacceptable. It is illegal in modern China to have more than one spouse for either sex. Polygamy, however, remains seen and tolerated in southwest China among Chinese minorities such as Tibetans etc.