Friday, March 30, 2012

scmp: Li puts his faith in city's core values



Li puts his faith in city's core values

Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, yesterday called on the city to rally around its core values of "freedom and rule of law", in the wake of his favoured candidate's loss in the chief executive election.

Li was a staunch backer of former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, but the chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) said he would "absolutely support the [new] government", which takes office in July led by Leung Chun-ying.

Speaking at the announcement of the annual results for Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa, Li said the Hong Kong government did not hinge on one person.

"It is important to protect Hong Kong's core values - freedom and the rule of law. As for democracy, it is enshrined in the Basic Law and will go on to develop [according to the mini-constitution]," he said. "Everyone should support the government, which is based not only on one person, but the whole administration."

Li repeatedly stated his high-profile support for Tang, who lost Sunday's chief executive election with 285 votes to Leung's 689.

While some major developers, such as New World Development's Henry Cheng Kar-shun, made a last-minute shift to Leung's camp, Li persisted in his support for Tang. Li reportedly turned down a request from Vice-President Xi Jinping to back Leung. "The election is over," said Li. "We will adopt a co-operative attitude towards the government." Li said he did not fear that the property market would be affected by the new government, stressing he would not withdraw his capital from the city - contrary to speculation during the campaign.

"I love our nation and Hong Kong," he said, adding he would not pull out of the city. Hutchison's investments in Hong Kong account for around 16 per cent of the company's global stake.

"Hong Kong has the Basic Law and its legal system," he said. "No one has ever been affected because they voted for the other [loser's] side."

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