Founder of AbouThai severs ties with yellow economic circle, 5 branches sued for rent arrears over HK$1.3 million

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Mike Lam

22nd March 2023 – (Hong Kong) The founder of the chain store “AbouThai”, Mike Lam King-nam, who is one of the defendants in the democratic primaries case involving 47 people, admitted in January that he would plead guilty and become a prosecution witness. Local media HK01 found that since February, at least five AbouThai branches have been sued for rent arrears, involving nearly HK$1.3 million.

Lam issued a statement on social media today, saying that he was cutting ties with the “yellow economic circle” (it is a system of classifying businesses in Hong Kong based on their support or opposition to the 2019–2020 protests in the city) and calling it a wrong example. He also said that AbouThai will “tell a good Hong Kong story” in the future. Since Lam admitted in late January that he would become a prosecution witness, at least five AbouThai branches have been sued for rent arrears, involving nearly HK$1.3 million.

On 1st February this year, its branch at Kornhill Plaza in Quarry Bay was sued by the landlord Hang Lung Properties for rent arrears of over HK$111,000 for one month. The same branch was sued again by the landlord on 20th March for rent arrears of over HK$111,000. Within March, AbouThai’s flagship store in APM, Kwun Tong, Shatin Centre, Mong Kok Hollywood Plaza, and Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay were all sued by landlords for rent arrears. The APM branch was sued for two months for a total of HK$390,000 in rent, with an average monthly rent of nearly HK$200,000, the highest among all branches. The Hollywood Plaza branch was sued twice by the landlord for a total of over HK$252,000 in rent arrears for two months; the Sha Tin Centre branch was sued for three months for a total of HK$300,000 in rent arrears; and the Telford Plaza branch was sued for one month for rent arrears of over HK$123,000.

Most of the AbouThai branches are located in large shopping malls. Among the sued branches, except for the Shatin Centre branch, whose landlord is Henderson Land, and the APM branch, whose landlord is Sun Hung Kai Properties, the rest are all mall properties under the umbrella of Hang Lung Properties.

AbouThai is operated by ABOUTHAI (HONG KONG) LIMITED with the director being Pang and Lam’s Thai wife RERNGRIT KANOKWAN being the director and sole shareholder of the company. Lam did not serve as a director or shareholder of the company.

On Wednesday noon, Lam issued a statement on social media in the name of AbouThais founder, clarifying that he was cutting ties with the “yellow economic circle.” In the statement, Lam stated that “Hong Kong cannot be chaotic, nor can it afford chaos,” and called the “yellow economic circle” a wrong example. He also stated that AbouThai no longer has any relationship with the “yellow economic circle” and will “tell a good Hong Kong story and contribute to Hong Kong and the country.”

Lam is involved in the democratic primaries case involving 47 people and is accused of conspiring to subvert state power. He has been released on bail, and his wife and daughter have also gone to Thailand to start a new life.

In early January of this year, Lam uploaded a photo of himself with Financial Secretary Paul Chan on social media, stating that Hong Kong has “sound laws and regulations” and calling for telling a good Hong Kong story.