|Henry Tang Ying-yen|
The other day Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen rejected criticism that property tycoons unfairly dominate Hong Kong's economy. In fact, Tang believes these people should be held up as an inspiration to people.
He said young people shouldn't complain but ask themselves, "Why can't I become the next Sasa [cosmetics retailer]? Why can't I become the next Milan Station [sells second-hand handbags]? Why can't I become the next Li Ka-shing?"
People, particularly young people are fed up with the surging housing prices that are constantly out of their reach. That's because the government doesn't release enough land for development and mainland Chinese buyers are snapping up properties like designer bags on a shopping spree. Last Sunday Hong Kong people held a protest march, shouting, "End property hegemony".
But when asked if he thought such hegemony existed, Tang said no.
"I would not use the word 'hegemony'. I would only say Hong Kong offers free and open opportunities for people to create their universe and realize their dreams," he said. "Hong Kong is a fair and open society. It is full of opportunities for those who are prepared to capture them."
What Tang says is ideally true, but not the reality.
Opportunities in Hong Kong are now mostly only exclusively available to those with money. Lots of it.
We cannot be like Li Ka-shing anymore. Those times of relatively inexpensive rents and manufacturing cheap goods are over now in Hong Kong.
And with his wealth, Li has made the city his own. Almost literally.
Let's see -- he controls a large chunk of the property market, owns one of the city's two largest supermarket chains, one of the two largest drugstore chains, one of only three radio stations, an internet service provider, a mobile phone service supplier and has a monopoly on supplying electricity to all of Hong Kong Island.
And Tang insists there is no hegemony?
Perhaps he doesn't realize it because he himself comes from old money, as Tang's family having made its wealth from the textile industry in Shanghai.
This is proof there is life on other planets.