Mr. Shangkong

Family, faith and hard work keep Hong Kong dream alive

The doubters in today's fast-moving society may believe that success is not within their grasp but those that do make it reflect the city's true spirit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2012, 7:05am


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My previous column about one man's "Hong Kong dream" and how it had been affected by the city's new property tax apparently proved to be something that not everyone agreed on. Some readers doubt if Hong Kong will ever be the Asian version of the American dream.

Let me tell you another story about how a Hong Kong dream came true.

One of my favourite places for lunch is a small restaurant in Causeway Bay near Sogo. Like me, the owner of the restaurant was also born in Shanghai but he moved to Hong Kong about three decades ago and became a naturalised Hong Kong citizen.

He opened his first small noodle and wonton shop about two decades ago, which quickly became the top choice for original Shanghai dim sum among many Shanghai people in the city. There have been always many Shanghai people in Hong Kong and even nowadays it is no surprise to hear the Shanghainese dialect in Central and Causeway Bay.

The small Shanghai restaurant even made it to the pages of USA Today some years ago, the article detailing how a Shanghai immigrant survived and prospered in Hong Kong, as a fair reflection of the Hong Kong spirit - as long as you believe in yourself, work hard and earn every coin for your family, you will succeed.

It is true that sometimes you have to work harder when you come to a new city. I think the owner of the Shanghai restaurant will agree, because he was one of the first in Causeway Bay to open his restaurant 24/7. It worked. His shop became a go-to place for young people looking for real food after drinks and karaoke.

When I shared the story with some local friends the other day, some of them tried to argue this kind of "Hong Kong dream" story may be history. They blamed the city's fast-rising rents and the so-called real estate monopoly for the death of small family shops.

They are right, to an extent. But they may not have thought in-depth on how people, especially young people, find their role in a fast-changing society through self-confidence.

I asked my friends why a venture like Facebook could be founded in the United States. Some of them blamed the lack of support from the Hong Kong government for the information technology (IT) sector while others said perhaps local IT professionals prefer working for the back-offices of big banks rather than risk their own ventures.

I have been engaged in such topics many times this year, be it in panel discussions or in chats with friends, but in most cases, these end up in finding blame rather than solutions. If this is the common sense in today's Hong Kong society, no wonder some of our readers say they don't believe there is a Hong Kong dream for them.

After mentioning my friend J in my last column, he sent me a message: "George, I hope in 10 years, you can write another story about me, a story about how I eventually make my Hong Kong dream come true."

In today's fast-changing world, no matter where you are, Hong Kong or Shanghai, Mumbai or Dubai, you can lose money but you can't afford to lose the key to making money - your self-confidence.


George Chen is the Post's financial services editor. Mr. Shangkong appears every Monday in the print version of the SCMP. Like it? Visit