Friday, 28 February 2014

The Tycoon Speaks

Li Ka-shing voiced his opinions about Hong Kong's future today
Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing finally made an appearance in front of the media at the post-earnings results press conference for Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa.

He lectured Hong Kong people to stop complaining about mainland tourists in the city because they support the local economy.

"It will be very difficult for Hong Kong if there's no support from China," he said. "Stop scolding China tourists, this is totally wrong."

But Li doesn't have to walk the streets hearing Putonghua everywhere or have to take public transport and see or smell kids urinating or defecating in the MTR carriages. Imagine him dealing with that!

In any event it was good to hear him voice his disappointment that the upcoming APEC finance ministers' conference being moved from Hong Kong to Beijing.

"I hope Hong Kong can be recognized by our own country and other countries as the ideal place to host such international meeting," he said.

And then when asked about press freedom, in particular the chopping attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, Li was very concerned about the state of press freedom in Hong Kong.

"Violence can in no way be right. No matter what, the rule of law is the most important (aspect) in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is nothing without rule of law."

He added press freedom "is our core value. If Hong Kong does not have press freedom, Hong Kong will face huge losses".

Li is correct on these two points. Rule of law and press freedom are what make Hong Kong different from China, and without them all confidence would be lost in the city.

Which is why we need to protect them even more than ever as we're seeing them erode so quickly after the handover.

After living in Beijing for three years, I was eager to go back to Hong Kong where I had freedom of speech, press and rule of law. I also knew these values were disintegrating too, which compelled me to come back and defend them in whichever way I could.

We cannot assume the government will defend them for us -- we need to do that ourselves or we are to blame for losing them.

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