Tycoon Li Ka-shing issued a statement yesterday supporting his companies' activities in the SAR after he faced criticism for threatening to pull investments out of Hong Kong. The statement by Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa read: 'Hong Kong means more to us than just a place for business; we have strong roots here and an even stronger commitment. Hong Kong is the base for the Cheung Kong Group of companies. 'As our home, we have stayed in Hong Kong through thick and thin, even during the most difficult times in the past. 'Hong Kong will continue to be our home and our base; we will continue to expand our existing businesses in Hong Kong following the long-term fundamental policy set by chairman Mr Li Ka-shing.' The statement was issued after a rare joint advertisement appeared in Ming Pao and Apple Daily yesterday in response to remarks made by Mr Li last week. Mr Li was asked about Cheung Kong companies' commissioning of the consultancy linked to Gary Cheng Kai-nam. Mr Cheng's integrity was challenged after he failed to declare his interest in the consultancy. Mr Li said he might 'invest less' or 'divert to other business' if 'the media and politicians were to orchestrate a symphony'. In the advertisement, 260 signatories, including university lecturers, pressure groups, politicians and individuals, accused Mr Li of using his financial clout to threaten free speech. They said the media had a responsibility to dig out and report on any unfair issues affecting society. Among the signatories were Dr Chan Shun-hing, assistant professor of the School of General Education at Lingnan University, and Professor Kuan Hsin-chi, of the Department of Government and Public Administration at Chinese University. Dr Chan said Mr Li was patriarchal. 'He is like a father who threatens not to provide food for his son if he is naughty,' she said. She cast doubt on Mr Li's repeated avowals that he had a loving heart for the SAR. 'It's easy to pay lip service,' she said. Dr Ma Ngok of City University said Mr Li had simplified the matter by blaming it on the media and politicians. 'We did not ask Mr Li to shut up. He also has freedom of speech. But we also have freedom to express alternative opinions,' he said. Cheung Kong said Mr Li respected freedom of speech and the right of others to express their views. But a spokesman said it was 'absolutely untrue' that the firms would pull out, although there were difficulties. 'When projects were proposed they were very often met with unconstructive and damaging criticisms, resulting in insurmountable obstacles. Hence, some of these projects never materialised,' the spokesman said. 'Although we were forced to abandon some of these projects, if suitable opportunities present themselves, we will continue to actively study new investment projects.'