'Beggar' loses plot in funeral gambit

A Putonghua-speaking woman was seen begging in Mong Kok on Monday for HK$300,000 to pay for her father's funeral but earned scorn when a photo of him turned out to be of prominent director Xu Jizhou, who is not only very much alive but just recently won praise for a CCTV drama that he produced.

The would-be panhandler first attracted curious glances on Argyle Street early on Monday seated in a foldable chair with a cardboard sign in simplified Chinese nearby that indicated she was willing to "sell myself for the burial of my father."

However, that curiosity turned to disbelief for some when the iPad photo of "her father" that she used to tug at the heartstrings turned out to be of Xu, who produced The Knockout that aired on CCTV and the iQiYi online platform last month.

An onlooker asked if she needed help, but she initially signaled she wanted money before saying in Putonghua: "Why would you come and talk to me if you don't have money? Give me money!"

She was later asked how much money she needed and what she wanted it for.

She said: "HK$300,000, I just want HK$300,000!" while showing a handbag, that bandied a Yves Saint Laurent logo. In a show of emotion, she said: "My mom says she wants HK$300,000, not me!"

A local Chinese media reporter tried to ask her where she came from and why she had to sell herself to bury her father, but she refused to be interviewed.

A passerby spoke to her in English, and in broken English she said: "I only like cash as my mom says my dad is going to die!"

But she suddenly broke down and yelled: "None of your business!"

A passerby said she had tried to obtain money the same way in Causeway Bay before the pandemic, and was surprised to see her again in Mong Kok three years later.

When she heard someone say at 8pm a police report had been made, she quickly collected her things and headed down Sai Yeung Choi Street South for Yau Ma Tei.

She danced to songs by street performers near the Bank Center and showed her gratitude by leaving a HK$50 banknote.