Testimony concludes at Nina Wang trial

Updated: 2009-07-11 06:57

By Teddy Ng(HK Edition)

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HONG KONG: Asia's wealthiest woman firmly believed in fung shui while she was alive and the will dated 2006 in which she bequeaths her entire estate to Tony Chan is probably a fung shui will, written in the hope it would extend her life, fung shui expert Szeto Shek-chuen told the Court of First Instance on Friday.

Szeto, commonly known as Szeto Fa-ching, was called to testify by Chinachem Charitable Foundation. He was testifying on the 38th day of the probate trial which will decide who will inherit Wang's estate. He told the court that the settings of the Chinachem office and Wang's living quarters reflected her religious beliefs.

Settings for praying to harmonic deities and the Buddha were found, Szeto said in his report. Wang also kept a pair of chopsticks bearing scriptures in her handbag and used those as eating utensils.

Szeto said in the report that he believed the 2006 will to be a fung shui will because it contains the expression "God Help", which is common in such wills.

His report added a fung shui will reflects the belief one will be re-born after death, a popular belief in Southeast Asia. Wang's health turned grave in 2006. Drafting a fung shui will at such a time would be in adherence to the spirit and procedure of the ritual, he said.

The report said many fung shui masters gain clients' trust through various means, such as helping the clients to locate a missing person. Later they become friends with their clients. This tends to lead clients to follow the instructions given by fung shui practitioners.

Szeto said he has performed some 400 small-scale rituals involving the use of fung shui wills. In addition, he has performed six large-scale and 10 medium-scale rituals involving such wills.

Each ritual normally lasts for 49 days. The requests of the clients for God's help are not necessarily written in the will, but may be chanted or read in heart by the fung shui masters.

Fung shui masters normally ask clients to spare money for charity, but the masters will have no knowledge as to whether their clients follow their instructions. Nor will the practitioner necessarily have knowledge that the client intends to carry out what is stipulated in the will, he told the court.

He also said in his report that he had read Wang's memo concerning the transfer of HK$688 million to Tony Chan on three occasions. The number three, six and eight are lucky numbers in Chinese custom.

Edward Chan, counsel for Tony Chan, questioned the credibility of Szeto's report, saying some of the report's content is plagiarized from websites, including a blog written by Cheng Chi-yin.

A website Szeto referred to used incorrect Chinese characters carrying the same pronunciation but different meanings. Chan suggested Szeto copied them into his report without correction.

Chan asked Szeto about Cheng's standing and Szeto replied Cheng is an academic.

When asked by Chan about the qualification of Cheng, Szeto said "academic" in the fung shui field means those who are constantly learning and that qualification is not his focus.

Joseph Yu, fung shui expert appointed by Tony Chan, told the court that advising clients to burn real money is not the practice of a fung shui master.

The court earlier heard that Wang had burned real money for fun, and former legislator Gilbert Leung had also burned real money under the instruction of Chan.

"It is simply ridiculous," he said. "It is simple the behavior of those who claim themselves fung shui masters without fung shui knowledge."

Evidence at the trial is now concluded. Counsel for both parties will make closing submission on September 21.

(HK Edition 07/11/2009 page4)