Two months after the Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung withdrew his public offer of $HK1 billion to any suitor who would marry his lesbian daughter, Gigi Chao, the socialite/executive/philanthropist at the center of the controversy sat down with Lin Xueling on an episode of CNA’s “Conversation With” to talk about the whirlwind of attention the two have gathered in the following months.
Here’s a bit of background: In January of this year, Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, the owner of Cheuk Nang Holdings Ltd who’s notorious for his claims to have slept with 10,000 women, made headlines when he upped a previously set “dowry” of HK$500 million to HK$1billion in an effort to find a husband for his lesbian daughter, Gigi.
The open invitation lured in over 20,000 requests from potential mates, but Gigi Chao was not interested and said that the highly-publicized offers were making Sean Eav, her partner of nine years, “distraught”.
Not long after, she decided to pen an open letter to her father to put an end to the flood of inquiries. “I understand it is difficult for you to understand, let alone accept this truth,” the letter read. “I’m sorry to mislead you to think I was only in a lesbian relationship because there was a shortage of good, suitable men in Hong Kong. There are plenty of good men, they are just not for me.”
In February, Chao decided to withdraw his offer for the sake of his daughter, but said that he was still unable to embrace her love life.
“I can’t say I am happy with her choice,” he said. “If this is her choice then it’s for her.”
Talking with Lin, Gigi Chao discusses why she chose to make the open “rebuttal” to her father which was published across international media outlets.
“I sort of thought that was a bit much to keep fanning that fire of publicity [in reference to her father’s doubled $HK1 billion offer]…just when I thought all the craziness had subsided, he was just trying to get it to come back all over again,” she said.
“It was that that made me think, no, this is not right. I have to have a conversation with him and I have to make it stop. But I had had a conversation with him previously…and I just didn’t see that ending very well.”
“I just thought it was about time to have a candid open conversation with him,” she said. “And that’s what I did.”
As to how she dealt with the media attention, Chao said she took it in strides. “I suppose I could just crawl under a rock and cry…and say ‘oh poor me, look what daddy’s done’…but…that’s not really my style”.
A founding member Big Love Alliance and an active contributor to charities, Chao said she would “first and foremost” see herself as a “volunteer of humanitarian actions”.
Seeing as she’s also an executive director for her father’s real estate enterprise, Chao addressed the sensitive dichotomy between her advocation to volunteer and help those less privileged, and her career, which profits by selling luxury properties to China’s ultra-wealthy.
“The wealth gap disparity just hits you in the middle of the eyes,” she said. “These luxury properties that are being built for rich people are being built by workers that are probably on minimum wage”.
“I’m confronted by this paradox where, in the world of modern commerce, there are these groups of people that are not served by money because there’s not amount of increasing their wage that would actually help them leave the vicious cycle of poverty”.
“Instead, I’m asking people not to turn a blind-eye and confront this problem, and find ways to change it”.
When Lin suggested that Chao up the workers’ salaries, she replies: “That’s not the way commerce works…it’s not a viable option”.
The tail of the interview wraps up with conversation about Chao’s partner of nine years, Sean Eav [Sean Yeung]. The two met when Yeung just a client of Chao.
“Our relationship is just special…it’s more the little things in our relationship that make us better people”.
“So in upwards, you’re a better person with her than without her,” Lin asks.
“Indeed, yes” Chao said.
Watch the full, two-part interview here: