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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:32pm

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.

NewsHong Kong
ECONOMY

Tycoon Li Ka-shing downbeat over Hong Kong’s future

Tycoon warns over competitiveness, Occupy Central and harassment of mainland tourists

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 9:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2014, 8:16am
 

Poll

  • Occupy Central: 8%
  • Harassment of mainland tourists: 11%
  • Declining competitiveness: 81%
1 Mar 2014
  • Occupy Central
  • Harassment of mainland tourists
  • Declining competitiveness
Total number of votes recorded: 1,125

Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest man, gave a downbeat assessment of Hong Kong's situation yesterday, warning that the Occupy Central campaign, the harassment of mainland tourists and declining competitiveness with neighbouring markets would erode the city's prospects.

Li also said he was upset about the news that Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing as the venue for a meeting of Apec finance ministers and central bankers.

"The move to occupy Central does not benefit Hong Kong," he said. "If this happens, it will give a bad impression to outsiders ... even if it just lasts for one hour, it will be harmful to the city."

The campaign wants to stage a sit-in protest in the city's business district this year if electoral changes fail to meet its expectations.

Li spoke at the post-earnings results press conference of his flagship companies - Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa.

Cheung Kong posted a 10 per cent rise in its net profit to HK$35.26 billion for the year ended December last year, and Hutchison Whampoa reported its net profit for the year ended December up 20 per cent to HK$31.11 billion. Both were better than analysts' expectations.

Li said Hong Kong people need to stop complaining about Chinese tourists because they help support the city's economy.

Even if it just lasts for one hour, it will be harmful to the city
LI KA-SHING ON OCCUPY CENTRAL

"It will be very difficult for Hong Kong if there's no support from China." Li referred to the harassment of mainland tourists during a protest in Kowloon last month in which demonstrators targeted shoppers in Tsim Sha Tsui,

"Stop scolding China tourists, this is totally wrong," he said. Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong from China jumped about 17 per cent to 40.8 million last year, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

In what seen as an unusual move, Li repeatedly expressed sadness about recent happenings in the city.

"I was saddened that Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing to host the Apec conference. I hope Hong Kong can be recognised by our own country and other countries as the ideal place to host such international meeting," he said.

He was disheartened about the recent brutal attack of former Ming Pao chief editor, Kevin Lau, that sparked off concern over freedom of press in Hong Kong, and upset by the continuous reports criticising that he is pulling out of Hong Kong, despite his repeatedly denials.

Commenting on Hong Kong's competitiveness and opportunities, he said that the city's competitiveness should be strengthened. The gross dometic product of Hong Kong and Singapore were at similar levels in 1997, he said. But now Hong Kong's per capita GDP is now about one-third less than that of Singapore.

Li was ranked the richest man in Asia by Forbes magazine with a net worth of US$32 billion last year. But the ranking could be threatened by Galaxy Entertainment chairman Lui Che-woo, who has ridden Macau's casino boom to become Hong Kong's second-richest person, with a net worth of US$21 billion.

Li said that in a period of at least 10 years in the past, foreign magazines, which he did not identify, had underestimated his wealth by more than 40 per cent because they did not regard Canada's Husky Energy as one of his assets.

"Actually I am the biggest shareholder in Husky, slightly more than Hutchison. That's a personal investment. But I don't bother to point out," he said.

Li also reiterated he had no plan to retire.

 

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52

This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
In my company many of the older staff have got more passion than many of the young ones, who seem to think the world owes them a living. Recruiting is a nightmare. Sitting on Facebook all day is not what I pay you for.
johndoe
If Mr Li was so concerned about competitiveness, how about he pay his workers better wages at the port so that they do not strike. How about he stop jamming other operator networks than 3 in his HQ building. How about he build affordable properties for locals, both commercial and residential. And how about he condemn the corruption, cronyism, cartel behavior and anti competitive practices that prevents new entrants.
impala
Oh man, yeah, look at what happened to New York after Occupy Wall Street. That city is completely in the doldrums now. Like, totally.

If Mr Li thinks Hong Kong is no good anymore for his exploitative business plays, then please, please let him sell his interests here as soon as possible to some actually competent companies. Perhaps we can then finally have quality supermarkets, pay dock workers a decent wage, and less overpriced shoeboxes to live in. Good riddance.
caractacus
Everything this heartless billionnaire says about Hong Kong has some self interested motive.
All he and the other tycoons are interested in is money and most would not lift a finger to protect the ordinary people's freedoms and civil liberties; after all, to Li and his friends these are things to be bought and to those who cannot afford them: tough luck.
kctony
For 20 years the Shippers Council has complained about the annual hike of terminal charges. The terminals blamed wage increase as a major factor of skyrocketing operation costs.
Then Hong Kong has just recently found out ...vow....the dockers were still earning 1997 wages in 2012.
Squeezing & sucking the blood of workers and then make a name for himself as a charity donor is not philanthropy. It's more like a spiritual redemption.
ssslmcs01
As one of the biggest beneficiaries of the mainland visitors, what would you expect Mr. Li to say. I'm sure that many Hongkongers would agree with the comments by impala, if Mr. Li wants people to stop complaining, how about redistributing the wealth a little, pay the dock workers amongst others a decent salary.
About his comments on Occupy Central, even the international business leaders have fully endorsed it. German and American business leaders have clearly stated that they fought for democracy and that Hongkongers who treasure democratic representation should do the same. Of course without violence.
ianson
Freedom is not an issue for KS and having a great economy doesn't make a prison cell any more comfortable for someone who's done no more than speak his mind. Even if KS is right about negative impacts of Occupy Central, the price is a small one to pay for a much greater prize.
oxymoron19
Who needs you be our moral compass. Why don't you go back and do what you do best: continue to exploit people to build your utopia.
virokick
As LKS mentioned ; Why is HK's GDP per capita about a third less than Singapore's. That's because our city's wealth has mostly accrued into the hands of the rich, but the middle class and poor barely scrap through. The top 10 richest tycoons like him or HK's richest one percent are still richer than Singapore's. High rents , high property prices , over dependence on mainland tourist business, and so called free markets economy and low taxes are sure ways to erode our competitiveness. LKS idea of competitiveness and social harmony is for the rich to get richer and the middle class become obedient working slaves; property mortgage slaves.
whoaman
Mr. Li wants more mainlanders here because they pay lots of $$ for his flats...

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