Li Ka-shing

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