• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 6:31pm
NewsHong Kong

Tycoon Li Ka-shing admits he can't sleep for worry about Hong Kong's problems

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 3:41am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 9:37am

Li Ka-shing has revealed he is having trouble sleeping.

Widening inequality, an intensifying scarcity of resources and a decline in trust are some of the issues keeping him awake at night.

The 85-year-old tycoon revealed his problem in a gloomy speech to graduates at Shantou University yesterday entitled, "Sleepless in Hong Kong".

Li, the honorary chairman of the university's council, said widening inequality in wealth and opportunities, if left unaddressed, could fast become "the new normal".

He told graduates: "The howl of rage from polarisation and the crippling cost of welfare dependence is a toxic cocktail commingled to stall growth and foster discontent."

He said trust, the bedrock of an enlightened society, "is crumbling before our eyes".

But a change in direction could better foster an environment of growth and harmony.

He called for the government to introduce dynamic and flexible wealth redistribution policies that struck the right balance between promoting equality and economic objectives.

Li urged the graduates to be "custodians of their future" as an "antidote for everyone's insomnia".

He sought to inject urgency to the debate on the scarcity of the city's resources, saying it would pose "challenges of immense proportions to our future".

The Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa chairman, ranked 13th on Forbes magazine's list of the world's super-rich, has been holding forth in recent months. In March, in an interview with online news service Caixin.com he likened the behaviour of Hongkongers to that of "a spoilt child" as they headed down a dangerous path of populism. Last year, Li said the city could not go down the path of "rule of man".

Dr Li Kui-wai, an economist at City University, said that while he was right to speak up on issues, it was up to those with influence to change matters.

"It's true that people are not investing in Hong Kong … and it's sad because all these tycoons are not looking to Hong Kong to help boost its development. These are the people who can bring Hong Kong to a new stage, who talk, who hold the keys. And these are the ones who can change Hong Kong economically. Why are they not doing it?" asked Dr Li.


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[He called for the government to introduce dynamic and flexible wealth redistribution policies that struck the right balance between promoting equality and economic objectives.]

We should start by taxing dividend as income then. How would that work for you Mr Li? Next up: tax property and land ownership, including empty plots and unfinished buildings. Are you still with us Mr Li? And then: a luxury sales tax. Mr Li? Hello?

What a load of waffle. Can't sleep at night because of widening inequality... while he himself is the very embodiment of the parasitic, government-colluding, rent-seeking business practices that are a root cause of that. Telecoms, groceries, drug stores, property, retail spaces, docking - all are de facto oligopolies in Hong Kong with suspiciously strong signs of cartel formation and price setting. And in all of these Mr Li is a key player.

Remember how you forced out a foreign competitor (Carrefour) to the supermarket duopoly Mr Li? How do you think that has worked out for the average HK'er in terms of prices and quality of their groceries? And why do you think our telecom market is now basically void of any foreign-owned competition as well (Vodafone, Telstra, they have all thrown in the towel)?

Your insomnia has nothing to do with worry, and everything with a guilty conscience.

PS. And if you really want to change Hong Kong, then why not donate half of your wealth to charity like many of your American counterparts have done?
What a hypocrite! He and the other greedy tycoons are the cause of the problems he claims to 'worry' about. "....widening inequality in wealth and opportunities...."-- how can these words come out his mouth?
Dai Muff
If he can't sleep, he should try being poor.
How about cutting your prices in Park and Shop so families can sleep at night knowing they don't have to pay 500$ for a small bag if groceries? The non 1% could use some sleep too.
Isn't he part of the problem? How about giving decent wages to the dockers for a start?
Hypocrite... it's kind of obvious why HK's housing is so expensive (LKS and his property tycoon buddies/crooks), from which basically all other ills and problems (like inequality, etc..) stem from in HK.
He holds monopolies in HK of which there is only one or two competitors, and they all fix the prices together, it's not even real competition.
Why is LKS speaking problems of Hong Kong out of town to graduating students in Shantou University?
There is not even a tiny bit of relevance for those students to involve in his personal experience that rose from a place outside of their experience. While LKS achieves his goal to speak ill of Hong Kong, what does he expect the students to achieve? Jump on the train to Hong Kong and help him to fix Hong Kong?
It is not the worry that he has but the anger within that has drove him sleepless at night and speaking irrelevantly on such an important day for the students. LKS has lost his cool more frequently.
I advise Shantou University to hold another commencement to set the occasion meaningful to the graduating class. The speaker needs not to be the biggest donor to the university but someone with intellectual depth and inspiring.
I like the Sleepless in Seattle better. It has a happy ending.
If HK is finished, he has got to be top 5 on the list of people responsible. When you hold that much money in your hands, you need a brain to match that.
So he goes to the mainland to btich about Hong Kong. Who cares if he cannot sleep.
It doesn't matter how a person makes his money. But when that person makes money off the blood & sweat of people who work for him with indecent wages, whatever philanthropy he donates does not make up his redemption.
The dock yard workers were earning 1997 wages last year. How's that possible?15 minutes or no lunch breaks. Do you know why sometimes you need an umbrella walking through the docks? The workers were so busy they had to pee from the crane.
There is no need to list the Park&Shop practice. Too often its malpractice is on the news.
Oh, why do people bring a measuring tape to check out a new flat. Cheung Kong is notorious with its deceptive measurements.
HK is actually better without him. There will be many investors ready to take his place.



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