MACAU: Tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun's living room could double as a mini mainland political consultative conference in the future.
Chan Un Chan (also known as Chan Yuen-chun), Ho's third wife, made it six of a kind for the family when she became a delegate to the Guangdong provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at its recent annual meeting.
A successful businesswoman, Chan's first foray into mainland politics builds on the family's interpersonal network and influence, with six members now delegates to political advisory bodies at various levels.
Ho, 89, is a member of the standing committee of the national CPPCC, China's top political advisory body. The casino magnate's health has been watched closely by the Hong Kong and Macau media since a blood clot on his brain was removed in August.
His fourth wife, Angela Leong On-kei, a former dancer, is a delegate to the Jiangxi provincial CPPCC and that of the Guangdong city of Zhuhai. Besides two of his four wives, the second generation of Ho's family is also making itself heard by officials in the big mainland cities.
Pansy Ho Chiu-king, 46, one of his 17 children and the managing director of shipping, real estate and hotel developer Shun Tak, was previously a delegate to the Guangdong provincial CPPCC and is now on the standing committee of the Beijing municipal CPPCC.
Sister Daisy Ho Chiu-fung, 44, is a delegate to the Tianjin municipal CPPCC and brother Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, 33, is a delegate to Shanghai's municipal CPPCC.
Joining advisory bodies and being elected to the National People's Congress are two ways for prominent people from Hong Kong and Macau to take part in mainland politics.
The Ho family probably has the biggest representation on advisory bodies but other famous families also wield some influence despite lacking its numerical advantage.
Ricky Tsang Chi-ming, the third son of NPC standing committee member Tsang Hin-chi, and Brian Li Man-bun, the second son of Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po, joined the national CPPCC in 2008.
Political analysts said that being a CPPCC delegate or NPC deputy is like a business card that Hong Kong and Macau businesspeople could use on the mainland to gain more respect from local officials. But local officials also liked to first invite prominent figures to join local bodies, with a view to attracting investment later.
"But obviously the status of Hong Kong and Macau businesspeople is much lower than before," one Guangzhou-based political analyst said. "Compared with state-owned giants and multinational enterprises, most of them are too small."
And while the Ho family's representation looks impressive at first glance it should be remembered that there are more than 3,000 CPPCC branches at various levels, with more than half a million members. — SCMP