• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 6:24pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong business leaders back Li Ka-shing on 'rule of man'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 4:21am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 4:35am

Fellow businesspeople share Li Ka-shing's view that Hong Kong should not go down the path of "rule of man", according to two business leaders.

One, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 85-year-old tycoon's comments, made to the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Media Group, indicated his discontent with Leung Chun-ying's administration.

Defending the city's core values, Li said: "Hong Kong cannot go down the path of 'rule of man'. Hong Kong has many core values, such as an open and free market and the rule of law, which are not come by easily." He warned that those values would be lost if the administration mishandled things.

Rule of man is generally taken to mean the absence of rule of law and a society where one person, or a group, rules arbitrarily.

The business leader said: "Li feels he and his business flagships have been targeted since Leung became the chief executive. He sounded the message to protect himself and hit back against criticism he deems unreasonable."

Leung, on a visit to Guangxi yesterday, agreed Hong Kong was a city that treasured rule of law. Asked whether he would mend fences with property developers, the chief executive said: "I have been maintaining dialogue and good relations with various sectors and the business community." Li's Cheung Kong (Holdings) is one of the city's top property developers.

Executive councillor Bernard Chan agreed Hong Kong should never practise rule of man. "New leaders around the world may have their own style but they still need to follow the laws."

Li backed Leung's rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, in last year's election for chief executive and it is widely believed he is not on good terms with the administration.

Li also commented on Leung's moves to alleviate the gap between the rich and poor, saying that a "free lunch" approach was not the solution.

"Many businesspeople appreciate that Leung's initiatives might be well-intentioned but he implemented them in a rash manner," the unnamed business leader said. "Many business leaders have been disappointed with him … and those voices have emerged as mainstream opinion within the business community."

A leading member of a business chamber said grievances had been piling up within the business circle. "It is very stupid of Leung to introduce populist policies detrimental to businesses, which had been supporting him," he said.

He said Li had spoken out as the tycoon "probably felt he was being targeted by Leung so he had to show to Beijing he was hitting back".

The chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, said: "We see no sign Hong Kong is ruled by man. We are still open and free."



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Li shares a fair portion of responsibility for Hong Kong's current woes. For nearly a decade he backed the administration of Donald Tsang ( 曾蔭權 ) who cohorted with tycoons, allowing them to scoop up at the expense of the poor and lower paid, the latter now forming a slave-labour underclass catering to the rich and upper middle classes.
Tsang’s administration oversaw the scrapping of the very meager measures of rental protection for lower grade domestic properties, allowing rental increases to run riot, a move which benefited Li’s property interests tremendously. Tsang also progressively diluted the medical and social safety nets, which had been built up and improved progressively by the former colonial administration. Not a word was ever uttered by Li against Tsang’s policies during all this time about the wealth gap widening!
Hong Kong’ core values of decency, which has been inherited in 1997, started eroding seriously after Liberal Party politicians and supporters, smarting from their over-borrowing on property speculations, colluded with property developers and resident China dissidents (read "democrats") to bring down Hong Kong’s first post colonial Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hua (董建華) . Tung was a very decent ruler who was unfairly blamed for the financial crisis which had spilled over into Hong Kong from the Asian crisis ignited in Thailand. In response to today’s grotesque imbalance of wealth, all Li can utter is “there is no free lunch”.
Well maybe Mr. Li is unhappy because for a change the rule of Man no longer refers to the rule of Mr. Li and the other tycoons?
Li Ka Shing & Cpy fret about the rule of law? Let me translate for you: The current Chief Executive is not kowtowing to them.
Mr. Li has got a big team of top notch advisers and PR experts working for him. Starting from this week, HK people would see the propaganda of Mr Li one show after another. They are well planned and with a strategic purpose, promoting himself as a person and his own businesses in particular that in China. One strategy of Mr Li is particularly predominant : He always put himself on a moral high ground and do a lot of self acclaiming. Are all he said about himself true and accurate? Let's try to find it out if we can. The fierce kidnapper Cheung Chi Keung is now dead, he would not argue with Mr Li anymore on what has been said about him. I like very much his so-called motto of "never earn away the last penny in doing business" . To me what he was saying was: he has already earned away all the dollars, why bother to bend his knees to pick up that last penny from the floor. All his speeches in the public are loaded, please be very careful. Mr Li is real real strategist.
LKS obviously has self-serving interests that must be taken into account. Nonetheless, it's informative that a highly successful international business tycoon values HK's rule of law over China's rule of man. For those who trumpet "convergence" with CHina, one wonders who's best interests they have at heart. Granted, convergence via China moving towards the HK system would be a good thing; but HK moving towards China's system? Not so much.
Amazing in that Mr. Li, who has adeptly cultivated relations with senior Chinese leaders for over three decades. He has been called the master-capitulator, referring to his emphasis on economic benefits above most everything else. Today, his call to Hong Kong residents should raise alarm bells. Mr. Leung and his Beijing appointed cohorts are pushing Hong Kong into full tyrannical control where the rule of laws is subjugated to the will of China's political elites. As we've seen so tragically, Chinese citizens who do not kow-tow to corrupt overlords or accept totalitarian control are persecuted mercilessly. Right and wrong is inconsequential so long as corrupt officials get their share, and oppression of the weak and unrepresented is the only way to survive. China's economic ascension has benefited the top 2% (28 millions) who consume 35% of the world's luxury goods and services (BMW, Mercedes Benz, private jets, yachts, Prada, Gucci, others) while the bottom 70% (980 millions+) live at or below the subsistence level - according to the World Bank. Mr. Li, now at the end of his life, is actively speaking out against social injustice and the blatant push of Hong Kong into tyrannical control by Beijing's cronies aspiring to benefit from our fall. Let not our residents be fooled by empty-rhetoric of a nationalistic and strong China; no nation can be strong unless it is governed by rules that protect the rights of the least to the same degree as the privileged. Go Li!
is this gangster going to live forever?
You forget other things Donald Tsang and financial secretary Henry Tang did. They stopped the sale of Government land, cancelled the Home Ownership scheme and stopped building public housing, all to create an artificial property boom.
Li Ka Shing's business did benefit, but he has a conflict of interest between his shareholders and the interests of society. He was nevertheless correct about the rule of man because he was speaking for himself, not his companies.
Hong Kong is now under the rule of man where arrogant senior appointed officials treat their departments as private fiefdoms and their spoken word becomes law. There are no consultations, policy studies or constitutional processes involved, just the whims of unaccountable demagogues.
The sad thing is C. Y. Leung just doesn't get it.
In the late 70s/early 80s we tried to get a mortgage from the main stream banks to purchase an apartment aged over 20 years in a prominent location, and most main stream banks refused to grant a mortgage even though we were eligible for the loan and it was our primary resident. In the end the company staff mortgage perks saved us. In those days mortgages were readily and easily approved/available for new buildings built by major developers like Cheung Kong, SHK etc. I can't help but wonder who made such rules in those days.
If you have read through the interview conducted by <Southern Weekly> published last Thursday, you will know that due to the difficult experience Mr. Li had gone through under the Japanese ruling in Hong Kong during the WWII (he lost his father and he suffered from TB while his mother and siblings were in the mainland), he's become very patriotic since then because he believes a strong China won't let her people suffer again this sort of trauma. Our CE, he is also a patriotic person and I don't see there should be a conflict between CE and Mr. Li. Those so-called business leaders claiming supporting the 'anti-rule of man' speech and only dare to express idea on condition of anonymity are cowards and their real purpose is to make worse the relationship between the government and Cheung Kong/Hutchison so that those wicked business people could take advantage out of that. I don't believe Mr. Li has any conflict with the HK government ruling team led by CY.


SCMP.com Account