Safe hands

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2011, 12:00am


Political figure James Tien Pei-chun has seen his career interwoven with the tides of history. 'I went to university in the [United] States in 1964. A riot broke out in Hong Kong in 1967, [after which the] business [environment] stabilised. At that time my late parents' manufacturing [business] was doing very well. I came back in 1971 and helped in the family business,' says the former Liberal Party chairman who heads the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Globalisation resulted in the gradual shrinking of profits in the manufacturing sector. 'When we decided to get out of the industry in 1994, we were already losing money,' Tien says. He now manages an investment company.

The year 1983 marked a crucial point in his life, when the mainland and Britain started discussions about the future of Hong Kong.

'A lot of us felt that, while we were business-men, we [shouldn't] just focus on business issues. That was why a lot of my friends my age started taking an interest in politics,' he says.

Tien was appointed to the district board in 1985 and elected to the Legislative Council three years later. He has faced a lot in his political career, including mass protests in 2003, when he called for the delay of Article 23 legislation and his defeat in the 2008 Legco election.

He says the difference between politics and business is that 'there is no democracy in business'.

'You have to consult your staff and [the] business association, but you'd better make the decision quick. It's the reverse in politics. When there is something I am confident in, [I would still] talk to [as many people as possible] and make sure they agree with my rationale.'

Political parties in Hong Kong are in a developing stage, he says. One of the challenges they face is that voters aren't typically interested in city-wide issues, but are more concerned with minor matters such as whether 'a bus stop is near my house'.

'A more mature voter [would] know that some candidates are not good for Hong Kong and would ask themselves, 'should I vote for them?' We have to be responsible and vote in people who can do a better job ' he says.

'We need a more equitable society. The rich are getting richer and the poor are not getting better off. The distribution of wealth should be fairer.'

Patek Philippe

Ref. 5120 Calatrava

'Most of the watches I have, I received from my family. This one my wife gave to me a long time ago. I can't even remember the occasion.' Rolex GMT-Master II 'My son gave this to me for my 40th wedding anniversary. He gave one to me, and one to my wife.'