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  • Oct 18, 2014
  • Updated: 12:43am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Diamond boss urges employees to oppose Occupy Central in 'humiliating' e-mail

Company-wide e-mail refers to workers as 'children' and urges them to 'wake up'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 12:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 3:10am

A diamond conglomerate boss has courted controversy by asking his staff to oppose Occupy Central.

Addressing his workers as "children" in a company-wide e-mail, Lawrence Ma Yung-yi, chief executive of Lee Heng Diamond Group, urged them to "wake up" and see the "hypocrisy" of pro-democracy leaders.

Ma, a member of the National People's Congress who has previously served on Hong Kong election committees, advised against breaking the law for pro-democracy leaders who themselves "would not sacrifice for society".

Instead, he suggested his staff register with Silent Majority, a pro-government movement opposed to Occupy Central.

"Children … you love democracy and joined the July 1 rally. You clashed with the police, occupied roads, stormed the Legislative Council and are at odds with the mainland," Ma wrote in the e-mail, sent on Friday.

"Students, wake up. Do you see … the children of [the Occupy Central organisers] come out? These people only ask other people's children to fight for democracy, paving the road for their own children."

A sit-in protest at Chater Road by pro-democracy campaigners after the July 1 march resulted in more than 500 arrests.

Occupy Central organisers said that while they "respected" those who took part, they had not encouraged them.

Occupy plans a much larger sit-in in Central if the government fails to deliver a reform plan offering voters a genuine choice of candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

Professor Chan Kin-man, an organiser of Occupy Central, said Ma's remarks were part of a campaign coordinated by pro-Beijing forces.

"Parents should respect their grown-up kids' decision on whether to take part in Occupy or not. There are legal and illegal ways to support it. We will not reveal whether our children have taken part … we have to protect their privacy."

Ma's e-mail was sent to all employees in the Lee Heng Diamond Group, which owns about a dozen companies including MaBelle, Mabros and Falconer Jewellers. MaBelle has some 50 branches in Hong Kong.

"I was quite worked up when I read it," said one staff member. "Both the tone it took and the content were humiliating … it's none of his business."

A representative for Ma said he "did not write the text, only forwarded it".



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This article is now closed to comments

The best way to let Mr Ma know what people think of him is to avoid his shops and don't give him any revenue. Consumers have a choice and people like him should learn when to keep their mouths shut and not to lecture other people on what their views should be.
Hong Kong owes the Chinese for its credibility in the world financial markets. Your denial isn't going to change the facts. The dark age for Hong Kong is well and truly here. You should've stayed enslaved under the British as your women have always been "used" by them.
Get it right, HK has provided China with credibility in the world markets. No one trusts Chinese securities laws or Chinese accounting rules. HK stepped in as a market with western-styled securities laws and and provided the Chinese with a venue to sell stocks to foreigners giving Chinese companies to vastly larger pools of capital. You really are deluded. Best to lie down and take a break between doses of mainland propaganda, you poor deluded fool.
Dai Muff
Dear Mr Ma. None of your darn business, so you may stick your opinion where the sun don't shine.
Or stick a piece of coal up there and get a diamond later...
Does he deal in blood diamonds?
No need to answer his irrelevant questions - this is a distraction from the most important issue.
When someone (a boss) has power over others and says something about how those under their power (employees) ought to act, or what they should or shouldn't do, then those words have a far greater proportional impact in motivating the employee than would the identical words when uttered by another who did not hold any particular power or influence over them.
When someone has special power of one kind or another (financial, brute strength, authority, etc.) over another, then they have a special responsibility to use that power carefully and wisely. They must not use that power to gain unfair advantage or manipulate others toward their own point of view on contentious political issues.
Psychologists, doctors, social workers and teachers, as examples regularly work with people who are disadvantaged to such a degree that they could easily be manipulated by dishonest professionals into doing things they would definitely not otherwise do, such as, for example, by providing sexual favours. These professionals are explicitly trained to be very cautious when dealing with less powerful individuals so as to protect the autonomy of their less-empowered clients.
The relationships between the boss, Mr. Ma and his many employees are characterized by exactly this type of power differential. He didn't have to tell them he would fire them if they defied his will.
His intention to manipulate their behavior is clear. And with such a power difference between himself and his employees it makes his email clearly immoral. It is not a question of his exercising free speech - yes he can say what he did - it's not against the law of the land, but is against the moral law to impose your power over them to influence their right to choose their political actions as free citizens.
If an abusive man threatened to beat his wife if she did not vote for his preferred candidate in an election, we would all immediately recognize it as a violation of the woman's freedom to choose for herself. It is an extreme example, but it is an example where one has disproportionate power over another and uses that power to manipulate another's political choice. Even if the man threatened only to restrict his wife's spending money, we could also se this as clearly wrong. I'm not suggesting Mr Ma is physically abusive like the man in my example, but I use the example to demonstrate that using power over others to influence /affect their political chices is wrong. Mr Ma's using his power over his employees jobs and finances to influence their political views is also immoral. This is bullying. It's wrong. If Mr Ma wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper arguing his views about this issue - no problem. That is his right and it is to be honoured and protected as a universal right.
If the employee fears he might lose his job and his welfare being threatened i.e. loss of his job, then imagine economic chaos befallen onto Hong Kong as a result of social unrest and how his welfare will be affected - i.e. loss of his job, his assets collapse in value, hyperinflation from panic. We see them on the news, but never would consider a possibility in Hong Kong, like a child watches the fireman putting out a fire and recovering victims, but still plays with matches.




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