Li Ka-Shing (pictured), chairman of Cheung Keung Holdings and Hutchinson Whampoa and richest person in Asia, spoke to Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报) in a wide-ranging interview published today.
When asked to address rumors that he may be pulling his assets out of Hong Kong due to recent property policies, Li had the following to say: “In a healthy polity, the government and corporations have an intertwined relationship. The key thing is, the government’s powers must be used to implement policies fairly on the basis of the rule of law. There must not be the ‘rule of man’ in Hong Kong; we must never go for selective use of power.”
He also noted that “a free and open market values “principles” and the “rule of law”, both of which do not come by easily. However, poor governance can cause everything to evaporate overnight.”
Asked if entrepreneurs should concern themselves with politics and inject themselves into national debates, Li said, “I’m not a smart man, but if I ever I find the political environment to be against me, then worrying about it doesn’t really help anything.”
“I have never taken part in politics, but I care about politics,” he added. “The relationship between politics and business is like that between hands and feet. If the two work against each other, then it’s hard to get anything done. So I hope that we get both the politics and economy right, so both the people and the nation can grow stronger.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the 85-year-old Li also spoke on what he regards as high property prices in mainland China, his two sons Victor and Richard, his philanthropic efforts as well as a tantalizing tease about a new smartphone OS in the works: “I also like to pursue the very latest in technology. I can also reveal that there will be a new operating system soon [in the marketplace as an alternative to] Apple and Android.”