• Mon
  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:28am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

The business leaders who aren't worried about Occupy Central

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 3:16am

High property prices and inadequate infrastructure were more serious threats to Hong Kong's competitiveness than Occupy Central, speakers at the South China Morning Post's Redefining Hong Kong debate said yesterday.

"We have no problems with Occupy Central. It's not a huge issue. I don't think it will slow down business," said Ian Bolin, chief transformation officer of Infiniti, the luxury brand of Japanese car giant Nissan Motor. Infiniti's global headquarters is in Citibank Tower in Central.

Occupy Central would also not affect Digital Realty, because its Hong Kong staff could work from home using online technology, said Kris Kumar, the US data centre firm's Asia-Pacific head.

"There is always something political going on," said Robert Partridge, Asia-Pacific private equity leader at EY, one of the big four accounting firms. "Business always goes on. Is it changing the course of Hong Kong? No."

Rupert Hogg, chief operating officer of Cathay Pacific, said: "I grew up in Scotland. The political debate in Hong Kong is insignificant compared to Scotland."

Debate over whether Scotland should secede from the United Kingdom is at fever pitch.

Hogg warned: "The big competitive threat is if we don't grow the infrastructure as the market demands. The danger is if we don't build the infrastructure, it won't capture the growth in the region, and the growth will be diverted to other areas."

About 8 per cent of Hong Kong's gross domestic product came from the aviation-related sector, and having a world-class airport was critical to the city's economy, he said.

"If we don't get a third runway, we won't have the capacity to keep growing. The advantage we have at the moment is not guaranteed," Hogg said.

What was critical for Hong Kong was information technology infrastructure to ensure international connectivity, Kumar said.

"For us, Hong Kong's high property prices are definitely a problem. We need lots of space for our servers," he said.

Digital Realty chose Singapore over Hong Kong for its Asia-Pacific headquarters because it was easier to set up the centre in the Lion City and Hong Kong's property prices were higher, Kumar said.

Partridge said Singapore and Taipei were competing with Hong Kong, and competition from mainland cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou would grow.

The key for Hong Kong to remain competitive as a financial hub was creating innovative financial products to attract capital from the mainland and other places, he said.

Partridge said the Qianhai special economic zone in Shenzhen and the Shanghai free-trade zone did not have to be a threat, because Hong Kong offered transparency and an attractive tax regime.

"They provide an alternative," he said. "It's not either-or."



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This article is now closed to comments

Maybe the free nation of Taiwan will have a quality migrant scheme for young professional HKers willing to escape Hong Kong for a new life?
hk has not enough infrastructure?? what a bunch of idiots.
Indeed, masses of idiots were claiming that gradual expansions added to Kai Tak were more than enough for Hong Kong forever back then.
Why doesn't Kumar move to Singapore where his HQ is? He passes his travel cost back and forth to his client and it would be Business Class. Why build Runway 3? More pollution and noise for HK. More infrastructure means more concrete higher CO2 levels. These guys are so transparent. They do not care about HK. They are bottom line bean counters. Send them down to SIngapore and let them "prosper" there. They are all flash and no soul. Who cares about their politics anyway. They are not local.
Why do people even commute to work and fly occasionally for holidays? Why should there be the Olympics and the World Cup because so much concrete, steel, etc. are consumed for these events? Why don't humans just live in caves instead? Ridiculous.
To compete and to be self-sufficient as an airport is two different concepts. To Rupert Hogg of Cathay Pacific they are one.
Allow me to interject a common sense approach. Cathay Pacific builds its strength by accepting the idea of an airport in Hong Kong as part of a regional operation. Tab the EXISTING resources around Hong Kong in Shenzhen and Guangdong. At the mean time be mindful of the pitfalls if the third runway is to go ahead.
And you would if the expanse of building the third runway comes from Cathay Pacific.
Hong Kong would benefit even not to gain more GDP from aviation because the gain for better social services including education is infinitely larger if those trillion dollars aren’t spent on pouring concrete -- aka infrastructure / public works.
Here comes the demagogue with his bogus and LIES when things get too desperate for him. This demagogue has nothing but stupidity and obsession. The head of this person is totally filled with concrete. The other airports in the PRD are certainly NOT looking to "tap in to the EXISTING resources" of HKG. All of these other airports want to overtake and marginalize HKG. Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese airlines are also big operators at HKG. According to the business plan of the as good as bankrupt Jetstar, the airline plans to launch hundreds of flights out of HKG with, God forbid, WASTEFUL narrow-body planes. Shouldn't these airlines pay for the construction of the third runway as well according to your moronic logic? Many of the routes ex. HKG to far-flung destinations are never operated by CX. Hong Kong would most benefit if the city continues to thrive as a GLOBAL aviation crossroad and the Government finally reforms itself by starting to tax the rich more and use more of its own reserves for social welfare measures.


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