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 funded monastery with bullet-proof dorm, writ shows
Austin Chiu and Thomas Chan
A Tai Po monastery that was built with sponsorship from Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing featured a dormitory block with bullet-proof windows and doors and three rooms strong enough to withstand an explosion, court documents disclosed yesterday.
Two other dormitory blocks, meant for monks and nuns, are not secured against bullets but are built in the likeness of the other one, as Cheung Kong Property Development wants the fortified building to look "as inconspicuous as possible". The roofs of the temples are laid with ceramic tiles, which the developer specified must be sourced from Japan, "not the PRC".
The design and facilities of the monastery, which also holds the world's tallest bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, were revealed through court filings submitted by a construction firm caught up in a bitter dispute with the monastery developer.
Chun Wo Building Construction, part of the listed Chun Wo Development Holdings, is seeking almost HK$335 million in outstanding bills from monastery developer Metta Resources.
Li and his charity fund reportedly donated more than HK$1 billion to the construction.
Earlier, Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily said Li, chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings), and his elder son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, set up a private company to build the monastery, which would serve as Li's final resting place.
Sik Kok-kwong, a Buddhist monk who chairs the monastery's board of directors, later dismissed the suggestion, saying it "seriously damaged the reputation of Tsz Shan Monastery and Li Ka-shing".
The two Lis officiated at the consecration in November.
After that, Cheung Kong asked Chun Wo to dig up all the Flammet stones from the floors of several temple halls because "the senior management of Cheung Kong was apparently unhappy with the consistency of colour and grain and smoothness of the joints", the writ says.
Flammet stones can be extracted only from a specific quarry in Sweden. "Cheung Kong's project team requested Chun Wo to assist them to gratify and to please their senior management, by replacing all Flammet stones," the writ says.
Cheung Kong said based on its understanding, Chun Wo had been paid according to the contract. It believed the row arose from the quality and progress of the project. "The project developer also suffered huge losses and is contemplating filing a claim [against Chun Wo]."