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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 6:08am

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.


Li Ka-shing doing a lot for charity

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:47am

Bernard Chan is a long way off the mark in the article ("How much do our tycoons care about Hong Kong?" May 31).

Caring is demonstrated by doing, not by talking, and certainly not by pointing fingers. It makes no difference whether you are a "big tycoon" or a small potato. Each of us has a duty to care for and contribute to the community according to our own means.

To intimate that "our billionaires" are somehow less caring than foreign philanthropists is a false generalisation, and sadly only contributes to the unhealthy divisiveness in Hong Kong society. I have worked for nearly 30 years with one of Hong Kong's biggest tycoons, Li Ka-shing. As a director of his foundation. I have also had the privilege of being involved in many of his philanthropic activities in Hong Kong and around the world. This work is thoughtful, caring and quiet. It is also work in which Mr Li is deeply engaged and about which he is passionate.

Ask any of the tens of thousands of families who have seen the suffering of a family member alleviated through the foundation's palliative care programmes. Ask earthquake victims whose lives were given hope because they received prosthetics funded by the foundation.

These are just a few examples of work that has spanned 30 years and involved billions of dollars in grants.

Ironically, Bernard Chan is the one who looks seriously out of touch here. One of the Li Ka Shing Foundation's most innovative activities in Hong Kong is the "Love Ideas, Love HK" programme, part of the HK$300 million "Love HK Your Way!" campaign, where it is the community itself that proposes and decides which projects should receive financial support from the foundation.

This programme is pioneering "crowd sourcing" in philanthropy precisely in the hope that funds can be more effectively channelled to grass-roots community needs. It may be hard for Mr Chan to imagine "our local billionaires caring enough to publicly support an unpopular cause, such as better education for ethnic minorities", but these are precisely the kinds of projects the foundation supports. One of the projects receiving a top-up grant from Mr Li personally in the last round of Love Ideas was specifically aimed at benefiting foreign domestic workers.

The truth is there are and always have been many caring people in Hong Kong, and some of them are tycoons and billionaires.

Hong Kong people may not be as high profile as American philanthropists, but they are certainly no less caring.

Frank J. Sixt, director, Li Ka Shing Foundation


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This article is now closed to comments

Donation filled with "LOVE" - grow up yying.to!!!! Li Ka Shing and his ilk are the epitomy of what's wrong with HK. If the government didn't let the tycoons get away with literally 'murder' then there would be no need for donations from Mr Li - not to mention that his donations to charity offsets his tax bill and makes him look good as well.
Oh please, spare me. The LKSF declares to have made a total 'commitments' of USD 1.3bn. That sounds like a lot, until you put it next to Li Ka-Shing's personal wealth, which Forbes puts at USD 31bn. So less than 5% of his wealth has been donated to his foundation! Last year alone, he received USD 800m in dividends from his companies, and then we are not even talking in the USD 5.5bn in gains his shareholdings made that year.

Only 28% of the LKSF foundation's 'commitments' are in Hong Kong by the way, so that is USD 364m. Or 2.8bn in Hong Kong Dollar

That is HKD 400 per head of the population.

Over >15 years. So 26 HKD per person per year.

Compare that to how much everybody in Hong Kong pays the various companies in Mr Li's business empire through phone bills, property prices, supermarket purchases and so on, and so on. Geez, HKD 400 in charity donations per person over 15 years. Thank you Mr Li! It is almost as much as my ParknShop MoneyBack vouchers.

And may I remind you that Mr Li pays no taxes in Hong Kong at all, as all his income is in dividends and capital gains?

Every single person in Hong Kong paying salary tax contributes more of his income to society in % terms than Li Ka-Shing has over the past decades.

And it is all fine. Such are the fruits of free (?) entreprise I suppose. Good for him. But please don't also expect us to consider him as a kind, benevolent, generous person. The guts!

PS. Closing word: dockworkers.
Before you throw stones at philanthropists like LKS, ask yourself what you have done to help other people. Will you donate one third of your wealth to make yourself look good?
I must declare my interest here - my organisation, a very small NGO, is one of the beneficiaries of Li Ka Shing Foundation's "Love Ideas Love HK" programme. The community project we were doing is so "niche" that we are not entitled to any govt fundings. Love Ideas has managed to help filling these funding 'gaps" - something that even Mr Bernard Chan's Council of Social Sevice would not be doing either.
I would rather HK have more people like Li Ka-shing than some of the commentators here.
If Mr Li would indeed donate 1/3 of his wealth, yes, it would be more impressive. That would be about 10x the amount he has so far put in this foundation.

Look, I am sure that Mr Li's charity helps. It is better than nothing. Every little bit counts. And I am not even arguing he has to do more.

What I find troubling is that the author of this piece is portraying Mr Li as very generous, suggesting we should consider him at par with the likes of Mr Buffet and Mr Gates who have pledged to donate HALF of their net worth to charitable causes. That is ridiculous. Mr Li has donated less than 5% of his wealth, and has accumulated all of it without paying much, if any, taxes, which also sets him radically apart from his US colleagues.

Furthermore, a lot of Mr Li's HK businesses (most notably the property and the retail arms) could well be classified as outright parasitic for the average consumer in their abuse of a oligopolistic market positioning and ruthless anti-competitive practices (ask Carrefour for instance).

And it is all fine by me as long as he plays by the (few) rules we have. Mr Li is a great investor and obviously very savvy businessman. But please don't go around portraying him as an oh-so-generous philanthropist and societal do-gooder while he has donated barely 4% of his wealth to charity and has paid probably zero personal taxes in Hong Kong for decades while profiting from the city's people every day.

Oh, and did I mention the dockworkers?
John Adams
I assume that PCC is writing tongue in cheek..........
I could see two angry birds, or Otaku probably, groaning here. Go on to air your grievances against the rich, if that will make you psychologically calm and balanced.
By the way, well said Frank Sixt!
Good analysis, but then we ought to be thankful, because he could choose not to donate even one cent.
I don’t understand why people are always posting negative energy in Hong Kong. No matter how much time, effort or money someone dedicated to charity work, it’s dedication! No matter how much money he or she gives to help those in need, it’s donation filled with love!
Can we be more positive in caring Hong Kong?


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