Asia’s richest man said Hong Kong should model itself after Singapore, which has focused on innovation and technology to attain success without the advantage of having China as its hinterland.
“Singapore is congenitally deficient while Hong Kong is a spoilt child,” Hong Kong property-to-ports-to-telecom tycoon Li Ka-shing told online Chinese-language news service Caixin.com. “Populism is rising in Hong Kong, and if this goes on, the city would look totally wrong in five to six years.”
Li urged the government to invest in innovation and technology and not focus solely on social welfare programs. “Helping the poor cannot solve the problems of declining competitiveness,” he argued.
“I think Hong Kong people need a greater sense of urgency,” he went on. “Although this argument might perhaps seem disquieting, one must have the right attitude about change while moving forward, and not develop a falsely confined mindset thanks to living in a generally affluent place for a long time.”
“Ignoring the potential and advantages of other places only makes one’s thinking unnecessarily rigid.”
The interview was published in Chinese and translated into English by South China Morning Post reporters. The American business magazine Forbes estimates Li’s net worth at US$31 billion, making him Asia’s richest person and the 20th wealthiest in the world.