• Tue
  • Jul 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:41pm
NewsHong Kong

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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Hate these pseudo smart asses, who sit in their comfort, do some P.R. event for charity to show they care. Why don't u try to take minibus in peak hours, try to live in sham shui po. try to buy affordable grocery in tsim sha tsui, try to find a decent local school for ur kid, try to see the doctor in govt hospital, 90% of ur time will be spent waiting in lines. And be a middle class person, who earns a salary, and try to break out of the rat race, try to open a shop or rent a house... U will know what people are talking about!! id*ot!!
I have a passing acquaintance with several Harilela family members and dined in their Waterloo Road home a couple of times many years ago. They are, as a general matter, very pleasant, modest and generous people. This is certainly true in David's case.
However, he and all the members of his family, and all rich people in Hong Kong, should know better than to disparage "the complainers" in Hong Kong. There are lots of things that are unjust in Hong Kong, and while these disparities may have existed in some measure 20 years ago, the gap in living standards and daily struggles for the haves and the have nots has become enormous and seems to be growing with each passing day.
The "haves" should either shut up or do something meaningful and constructive about righting the wrongs we see all about us every day. It is infuriating to be lectured to by a "philanthropist", whatever that is.
Indeed, David himself is moaning and complaining about the moaners and complainers!
People who live in glass houses, especially big, billion-dollar houses, should not throw stones.
Deal or No Deal
May be he should live the life of one of those complainers for 24hrs. Or participate in Undercover Boss and witness the working hours of his staff to make ends meet. People are suffering and voicing their opinions is the so called democracy we live in. Show some real care, consideration and empathy. A real philanthropist has the strong platform to highlight the wrongs in society. That's how you can help.
Tell this to the ethnic minorities in HK such as your fellow South Asians that are constantly discriminated against and pretty much denied even the opportunity to assimilate (unless they're millionaires) as equals to Chinese HKers.
Mr Harilela came in at a time when everyone, Chinese or otherwise, had to work hardscrabble to make it in HK but now that era is over and those that made it are part of a system of lording it over newcomers by trying to keep them down and the rents up.
Please do yourself a favour, sir, and shut your mouth, continue your philanthropy, and keep collecting the rents.
Dai Muff
I guess David Harilela has less to complain about than a guy living in a cage space in Shamshuipo.
Dai Muff
And his attitude is also what most Hong Kongers complain about.
Funny how it's always the rich (and crony government officials) that complain the poor complain too much. Maybe if the rich didn't soak us for high rents, supported fair trade legislation, and actually paid us better, or were willing to have meaningful social welfare ....
Crony capitalism capital of the world .... but heaven forbid we complain.
Dai Muff
Our richest people have become rent seekers and stopped innovating themselves. And the high rents they charge have destroyed many small companies I know. You can't get long term leases (as you can even in London and New York). And it is no fun to spend two years trying to make a start up business profitable only for a rent increase to suddenly wipe you out. When the government have given people the chance to rent former factory spaces for start ups, they have then gone back on their word as soon as there are enough tenants in that factory space. In the 60s, monopolistic practices did not work against innovation. Now they do.
"He said he hoped to be known as a humanitarian."
After this interview, he will have better chances of pulling off the Indian rope trick.
Ant Lee
SCMP - do you have any conscience? Why do you keep posting "advice" from selfish businessmen (like Li Ka Shing and this idiot) who has an obvious vested interest and had achieved their wealth by ripping off the ordinary HK people (sometimes ripping off our entire life savings), and now they us to shut up and turn a blind eye to all the problems we have now.
"Hongkongers complain too much", complains philanthropist David Harilela.




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