• Sat
  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 4:50am
NewsHong Kong
PHILANTHROPY

Hongkongers complain too much, philanthropist David Harilela says

Philanthropist David Harilela spreads a positive message in his annual search for 'unsung heroes'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 11:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 April, 2014, 4:57pm

Hongkongers complain too much and should learn to appreciate what they have.

That's the message from businessman and philanthropist David Harilela, whose annual humanitarian award, The One, is in its third year.

"More and more people are moaning and groaning, and I don't know why," Harilela, 64, said in an interview. "It's better to focus on doing good."

The nephew of Hong Kong's richest Indian, hotelier Hari Harilela, who heads his own group of companies, said the constant criticism was worrisome. "Everyone should appreciate what we have," he said.

Harilela said setting up The One, a global award, was his way of spreading a positive message and encouraging those who were already doing good.

One "unsung hero" who spends every day helping those in need will win the US$100,000 top prize. Three other finalists will receive US$50,000. Nominations for the award were received from Rotary clubs in about 60 countries, but none from Hong Kong.

Harilela said the award committee would set up a separate Hong Kong The One award next year to attract more local nominations. More than 200 Rotary clubs around the world collaborate in the scheme.

The nominees are cut to 10 in the first round of judging. They are whittled down to four by a second panel. A panel of five then decides the winner. The announcement of the winner is made in June. The award committee is also setting up an emergency fund for the finalists of each year in case they have needs while doing their work.

"I'm from the third generation, so I've seen poverty before in the family as well. I had to work hard," Harilela said. "So I hope [the award] will spread the word about people doing good in the world."

He said he hoped to be known as a humanitarian.

"I believe in everything that opens doors. Anything that closes doors is not good," he said.

He also said he was concerned about Hongkongers' demands for rapid change.

Harilela said one must understand a system in order to change it, and that that process takes time.

"I believe in compromise, not revolution."

On democracy and one-man, one-vote elections, he said: "It should come … It'll come when the time is right."

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This article is now closed to comments

stephen_a
His attitude is offensive in its complacency and high-mindedness. Everyone knows that this family is 'old money' in Hong Kong. He says he's 'worked hard.' So what? The fact this is offered as an explanation is an old trick of people who've acquired wealth who dissimulate that financial success is an inevitable and natural consequence of working hard. It isn't.
When you hear this, it shows a species of the kind of moralising evident in Protestant Calvinism, in that success and failure in this world is indicative of God's favour or disfavour. It also plays into the widely held myth that you can do and get anything if you want it enough or work hard enough.
As in this article, we see this attitude manifesting as 'I have what I have by god-given right, by dint of my efforts, and if you're poor, then it's your own fault.' Thus, we have no right to complain, says the big kahuna at the top of the heap.
Further irony is evident when plutocrats such as these contribute a tiny fraction of their wealth to charitable causes, thus earning the title 'philanthropist' and 'humanitarian' in the media.
Mandmf
Oh please. Have you seen David's life? ****hk.asiatatler.com/500list/david-harilela/images
Try living in a 400-500 sq ft apartment with your family, with crony capitalism stifling new businesses (ie opportunities for the little guy), food price gouging and big red brother saying you can't actually choose your representatives. It's easy to say "be content" when your life is golden.
The lack of empathy of this man is galling.
sipsip1238
From the amount of negative comments on this post, I think he may have a point.
virokick
We must re-shuffle the cards to produce a more equitable society , free markets in other Western Nations all have high taxes, and a strong social safety net. Here with no holds barred capitalism - it only breeds more instability in the society ; class warfare between the have and have nots. We use to applaud and worship the rich - now we complaint and condemn anything that sounds like the rich - because most Hongkongers are technically poorer today. Low stagnant wages , undervalued HKD reducing purchasing power, and yes - expensive rents, property , schooling , healthcare. The only thing still is cheap and free is-complaining.
cheeky
agreed...someone tried that in1949
virokick
From all these comments below ; It looks likes many people hate the rich. And for all the obvious reasons stated below here. We must come up with a better redistributive system through taxation - otherwise it won't be long before history repeats itself - today HK people complaint , tomorrow when things get too bad - people will bring back the guillotine.
So let's put it to the tycoons , it's higher/ progressive taxes and redistribution, or complaint today - guillotine the rich tomorrow.
syn
Hating somebody because of the amount of money they have and pointing out that some rich folks are out of touch with reality based on public statements are two very different things. Let's not start sharpening the guillotine just yet, bud.
fmhung
what a load of **** that is coming out of this guy's mouth. only a fat cat with lots of money would say such meaningless things that sound good on the surface, but does nothing to help solve our problems. He and CY would get along well.
fmhung
And how is this front page news worthy? Rich people saying dumb things that nobody cares about? How about writing about something that is actually news that affects hongkongers lives. Oh and Mr. Harilela, I'll refer you to read the SCMP article: Legco is holding back Hong Kong's development of entertainment industry, complains Allan Zeman
Yknot
'More and more people are complaining and I don't know why,' says Mr Harilela. Well sir, if you don't know why, then you clearly are out of touch with what is happening in the world that ordinary people live in. But then, you are wealthy, so why should that surprise us.

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