For the powerful, rich, or famous: some misbehave, get away with so much, and believe that the rules don’t apply to them

Likes of South Korea’s Cho Hyun-ah risk more than their reputations

If you are rich, powerful and/or famous, you tend to believe the rules don’t apply to you. Most of the time, you would be right. Not only that, but you feel a strong sense of entitlement because you enjoy perks, privileges and access denied to most people. And indeed, that’s how the world works.

In this new Gilded Age, whether you live in Hong Kong or London, New York or Shanghai, Moscow or Tokyo, you see many such people. And as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, writing about the previous Gilded Age in America, the rich are different from you and me. But there are many more super-rich and powerful people among us than Fitzgerald could ever imagine.

Such people often misbehave in baffling ways that defy common sense and invite trouble for themselves. They get away with so much it’s hard for them to determine when their luck, fortune and privilege may run out. Unlike us, their boundaries of acceptable behaviour are highly fluid. People like you and me instinctively know all the rules apply to us, even unwritten ones. That’s why we have common sense, because we know we get no special treatment.

I am sure Cho “nut rage” Hyun-ah, daughter of the chairman of Korean Air Lines, would have handled the matter that got her into so much trouble very differently if she had a different surname and worked her way up to take charge of in-flight service. Somehow, I doubt this was the first time she threw a temper tantrum and publicly humiliated staff.

Would you drive your top-line Ferrari at high speed with two naked women like Ling Gu, son of top party official Ling Jihua? He died from the crash, which led to his father’s downfall.

Now I am no fan of Cathay Pacific but like many airlines, its website clearly spells out it bans Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the breed that comic star Seth Rogen and his wife own, from its flights. Rogen could have spent five seconds googling that information, instead of going into a tirade against the airline.

Think about our jailed ex-chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, pop stars like Ko Chen-tung, Jaycee Chan and Edison Chen Koon-hei, the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Italy’s Silvio “bunga bunga” Berlusconi

The rules didn’t apply to them – until they do.