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  • Updated: 10:25pm

Li Ka-Shing

Often referred to as “Superman” in Hong Kong because of his business prowess, Li Ka-shing is the richest businessman in Asia, and chairs conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings, a property group. Li turned Cheung Kong Industries into a top property group, and Cheung Kong expanded to acquire Hutchison Whampoa in 1979 and Hongkong Electric in 1985. Li is a noted philanthropist and heads a charitable foundation that is a shareholder in Facebook.

CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Li Ka-shing's warning is a timely reminder for our divided society

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 4:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 7:23am

When it comes to what Hong Kong should or should not be doing, tycoon Li Ka-shing is never short of views. In a wide-ranging interview with a mainland news outlet recently, Asia's richest man shared his thoughts on democracy, governance, poverty and competitiveness. What sets it apart from previous interviews was the tone. It appeared to be more negative and critical.

The warning that Hong Kong is lagging behind Singapore was nothing new. But what concerns Li is that the island state managed to outpace us without the advantage of China as a hinterland. But Hong Kong, despite support from Beijing, was like a "spoilt child" and was heading down a dangerous path of populism, he said. If the trend continued unabated, Hong Kong would degenerate into a totally different place in as few as five years, he added. His remarks on governance were also seen by some as a veiled attack on the chief executive.

That the top businessman is worried by the current situation is hardly surprising. He is not the lone business voice in this regard. Indeed, many people have been taken aback by recent socio-political developments and wondered what has happened to Hong Kong.

The negative sentiment appears to be shared by different stakeholders. Recent remarks made by state leaders suggest Beijing is not happy with the way the city is developing. Local officials have aired frustration about working with an increasingly assertive legislature. But our lawmakers hit back and complained they have limited powers. The public are also dissatisfied with the political, economic and social situation. There seems to be a growing sense of pessimism across society.

This sorry state of affairs speaks volumes about our divided society. Whether Hong Kong has been behaving like a spoilt child is open to debate, but Li's warning should serve as a fresh catalyst for the city to explore ways to improve social and political cohesion.

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This article is now closed to comments

allan94
lks and his 2 sons have caused so much pain and loss thru their singleminded greed over the years, with connivance of the govt.
i cant think of any other family more egregious that them.
are we sure we want to listen to their advice?
SpeakFreely
The answer is "complacency". I currently live 50% in HK and other 50% in US. For the past few years, I saw hk falling rapidly from quality of life, to technology to competiveness, to efficiency. Example, I saw roads in tai po took years to fix; a small road in a village of around 10 meters took 3 months to fix where in US only 2days. Maybe we have hi speed internet in the city, but our web technology is about 10 years behind a small city in US. At least 10 years. There is not even one website in corporate hk can be considered upto the standard. I tried to find some one to lay porcelain tile, they all lousy quality skills but is doubling what I paid in US. Our food quality is sinking so rapidly too in restaurants that I basically gave up. Just because hk people are too complacent.... The rent is killing everything as cost if biz is outpacing everything...
johnyuan
To pragmatist, again,
Marshall McLuhan in the 60s wrote the book – ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’ which popularize the phrase – the medium is the message. LKS’s contact with press is riding on the crest in using the media. He lends his importance to Hong Kong to add weight to his arranged interviews. Unfortunately the message is not quite the media. The newspaper and journal where those interviews were taken added no value to readers but a liability of being unprofessional. LKS occupied the medium to thrust his view to the public with no counter view offer by the medium. I only can say he must adopt such unconventional way to make his view known because the message is the messenger himself – he is indeed the spoiled child in Hong Kong and not others. He knows this well and he is trying hard to deflect the blame.
.
Even SCMP’s editorial fell for it.
horacejeffry
The only spoilt child is Mr Li himself He is used that HK does everything he wants it to do so he and his companies can squeeze the last buck out of all of us. Now we do not agree any longer this "bully" says we are spoiled children Instead we have grown up and stand up against mr Li and tycoon buddy's
johnyuan
To pragmatist,
Your comment only serves LKS perhaps directly to your well-being too. The sky has been falling since Hong Kong played the property development and monopoly game in the 70s and years after. LKS is a superman who rightly dominates our sky which perhaps finally has fallen.
.
The editorial and LKS’s last interview is not a timely reminder for our divided society. The society has recognized the dividing state since after the handover and the reminder happens everyday in the streets with almost daily protests.
.
Hong Kong can do well with real pragmatist that sees beyond only gain for oneself.
.
Agree?
SpeakFreely
Don't jus criticize Li or argue about him, ask yourselves why last year there was Usd 1.7B invested in singapore tech vs only 15m in hk, that is over 110 time! Wake up hk...
SpeakFreely
Sound like you are one of those complacent hkoongers. Forget about Li, just focus on HK problems and ask yourselves what went wrong...
SpeakFreely
Not matter whether Li was right but the truth is "But what concerns Li is that the island state managed to outpace us without the advantage of China as a hinterland." Plus Singaporean enjoys much bigger living space and cleaner air. These are things that hk people has to ask what went wrong?
johnyuan
I dare SCMP to do a survey check and see how many agree that Hong Kong people have become spoiled children as accused by LKS. I see such sentiment actually more applicable to his own self. He, since CY Leung became the CE can’t do as please. He put up an open challenge against Leung with his failed hotel conversion. But I will not dismiss totally of his accusation. I would describe Li’s spoiled children accusation is about himself reflected in a mirror with many others like him standing next to him. All are spoiled children.
.
LKS is desperate trying to regain his influence in Hong Kong by degrading his opponents. He is desperate because Hong Kong can still be a cash cow for his business in property development for investing abroad. Giving his wide net of our basic necessities, food, properties, electricity, communication and warehousing they would leverage to dictate what he wants us to do without complain. He wants to believe we are children and has no rights to complain.
.
SCMP can’t help but to response in this editorial not so poorly in agreement with LKS.
kctony
I have lived in Paris, Colombo, and Lagos. Hong Kong a divided society? You ain't seen nothing yet.

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