Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing vows to elect a leader who can bring hope to the city

Li Ka-shing issues the pledge in his poll platform for the Election Committee that will pick the next chief executive

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 9:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 November, 2016, 1:08pm

Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, has promised to elect a leader who is “capable of bringing hope” to the city, having secured a seat on the committee that will pick the next chief executive.

The CK Hutchison Holdings chairman made the pledge in his platform for the Election Committee polls scheduled for December 11. The 1,200-member panel will select the city’s leader in March.

“I would wholeheartedly pick a chief executive who loves Hong Kong, is faithful to the Basic Law, is capable of bringing hope for Hongkongers, is trusted by the country and can fight for the best future for Hong Kong under the framework of ‘one country, two systems’,” Li wrote.

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The tycoon has been returned unopposed in the real estate and construction sector. In his platform for the 2011 Election Committee polls, Li did not list “hope” as a requirement, looking instead for a candidate who was impartial and had leadership skills.

For the 2012 race, the tycoon backed Leung Chun-ying’s rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, whose campaign was destroyed by revelations about a massive illegal basement at his house.

Li’s message came after Leung, the incumbent chief executive, and New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee dropped hints about running for the top job, amid mounting speculation that Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah would also throw his hat in the ring.

In an interview with Guangzhou-based Nanfang Media Group in 2013, Li said Hong Kong could not go down “the path of rule of men” while defending the city’s core values, such as a free market and the rule of law.

Li’s elder son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, who was also returned uncontested in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference subsector, said he was looking for a leader who could represent Hongkongers and implement the “one country, two systems” principle. Younger son Richard Li Tzar-kai, who has secured a seat in the Employers’ Federation of Hong Kong subsector, did not fill in his platform statement.

Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chichung, a staunch supporter of Leung who has already openly endorsed the incumbent’s re-election bid, stated the chief executive must defend the Basic Law and uphold the country’s sovereignty.

Thomas Lau Luen-hung, chief executive of Sogo department store operator Lifestyle International, put it more bluntly, stating his strong opposition to Hong Kong independence advocacy and the Occupy movement.

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But not all tycoons have comprehensively stated their views in their election platforms. Hopewell Holdings chairman Gordon Wu Ying-sheung only listed a single criteria for the next leader – to uphold the Basic Law.

Separately, the rift within the pro-business Liberal Party was also highlighted in the candidates’ election platforms.

James Tien Pei-chun, the party’s honorary chairman and a strong advocate of the “Anyone But CY” drive, stated the chief executive should be replaced to truthfully reflect the city’s conditions to Beijing. He is running in the Commercial (First) sector.

His colleague Vincent Fang Kang, who is running in the wholesale and retail sector, adopted a more subtle tone by stating Hong Kong needed a leader with vision and stamina, stopping short of saying the incumbent should be replaced.

The discord among the Liberals resurfaced last week when Leung appointed party veteran Tommy Cheung Yu-yan to the Executive Council in a bid to consolidate his political support base ahead of the poll. Tien then called on Cheung to step down as party chairman.