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."