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Alibaba

HK$1b Alibaba fund to help young Hong Kong entrepreneurs won't exclude occupiers: Jack Ma

Even those who ‘lack discipline’ will be included, insists Alibaba chief

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 February, 2015, 1:46am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 February, 2015, 12:38pm

Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma Yun said his HK$1 billion fund to support young Hong Kong entrepreneurs would not exclude those who took part in the Occupy Central movement, but he thinks they need "some discipline".

The head of the e-commerce giant also said his legal team would be transparent in its handling of possible class-action lawsuits in the United States over the alleged sale of fake goods on the firm's Taobao online shopping platform.

In a talk before some 6,900 in the city last night, Ma advised the crowd of mostly young people of university and high school age to learn from their failures and hardships, just as he was learning from his present travails.

Ma was asked if his fund would be open to those who had taken part in the mass sit-in for universal suffrage, which paralysed some of the city's major roads for 79 days.

"Why not? This is for Hong Kong's young people," Ma said.

Ma announced the HK$1 billion foundation on Sunday, a day before yesterday's address organised by the think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, which was set up by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Ma is an adviser to the think tank.

Ma noted, and another member of the audience pointed out, that some young Occupy protesters had had their travel documents to the mainland revoked by the authorities.

"When I was young, my dad cancelled many of my activities and didn't give me pocket money. Some discipline is needed, I'm sorry," he said, adding that young people should "believe in our country".

Ma explained in a later media session that the fund would support any project that would benefit the city: "We were young, too. We were impulsive and made mistakes, too. If we can give them another chance, I think it's good."

He declined to comment on the controversy over the city's electoral reform, saying he "had enough trouble already".

But Ma did respond to the war of words with mainland regulators over suspected fake products on his online shopping platform.

Ma said Taobao was "moving things ahead" with regard to its recent dispute with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

He said the company was not supported by "any certain officials" during the fight over counterfeit goods.

Ma said he would not have much time for the lawyers who were preparing to sue Alibaba in the US. "My legal team will handle that," he said.

The billionaire said he saw the foreign legal action as an opportunity for the West to better understand Alibaba's business, as well as China. "We have the courage that we should have. We will actively and transparently handle this matter," he said.

Taobao employs 2,000 staff to detect fake goods on the online shopping platform. "But we rely on a complaint system. If no one complains, it is hard to detect," he said.

Ma said Alibaba would deal with a case of degrees from a non-existent Hong Kong university being sold on Taobao.