Tycoon Lui Che-woo urges Hong Kong youth to think on where violence will lead, amid anti-government protests

Tony Cheung

Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che-woo has urged the city’s young people to think hard about what caused the recent spate of violence across the city – and where it could lead – saying he was saddened to see conflicts that threaten to bring instability.

In a full-page advertisement in Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao Daily, the chairman of property developer K Wah International also urged the government to devote more resources to helping young people understand more about their career opportunities, educating children about Chinese morals, and engaging in peace talks with different parties, so the city can return to harmony.

“I call on the government and various sectors to demonstrate sincerity, and open the doors for communication in a rational way,” he wrote.

Lui identified the city’s acute land and housing shortage as a deep-rooted problem behind the recent conflicts, and said a platform should be created for officials, legislators, respected figures, middle-class residents and citizens who could not afford to buy homes to sit down and find solutions.

Lui Che-woo noted how China had grown from a backward country to become the world’s second-biggest economy. Photo: Bloomberg

The tycoon also praised the city’s embattled police force for dedication to maintaining public order, since the now-shelved extradition bill triggered the city’s worst social unrest in decades.

“I hope different sectors can ... continue to support the police in performing their duties,” he added.

Lui is the second Hong Kong billionaire to issue a direct appeal to the public after hundreds of business leaders and pro-Beijing politicians were asked by mainland Chinese officials last week for their support in safeguarding the city’s prosperity and stability.

Earlier this week, Peter Woo Kwong-ching, former chairman of property giants Wheelock and Wharf Holdings, also called on Hongkongers to stop resorting to violence.

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Lui’s article came after protesters on Tuesday grounded more than 400 flights at the airport – and cable-tied, beat and tormented for several hours two mainlanders they accused of being spies – in a bid to take their cause to an international audience.

In his 1,900-word Chinese-language article, Lui started off by mentioning how China, especially since the founding of the people’s republic 70 years ago, had grown from a backward country to become the world’s second-largest economy.

“Since its return to the motherland [in 1997], Hong Kong has also been supported by the country ... and is now among the world’s renowned metropolises,” he wrote.

We need to allow more time for the government and various sectors to find solutions to various deep-rooted problems

Lui Che-woo

Lui said that in the past two months external forces had caused chaos in Hong Kong through various means. “Obvious decreases have been recorded in retail, hotel and tourism [figures],” he lamented.

He noted that the city’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor apologised for her government’s handling of the extradition bill, and said the legislative work was over.

“We need to allow more time for the government and various sectors to find solutions to various deep-rooted problems,” he said. “I call on young people to use their wisdom and knowledge in rational analysis of the motives and consequences behind violent behaviour. Keep a clear mind; don’t be manipulated to destroy Hong Kong’s stable environment.”

On Sunday, the city’s major property tycoons – including Woo, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi of CK Hutchison Holdings, Peter Lee Ka-kit of Henderson Land Development, Raymond Kwok Ping-luen of Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henry Cheng Kar-shun of New World Development – issued a joint petition to newspapers calling on the public to stop all illegal protests and violent acts to allow stability to return to Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, K Wah International was also among the signatories as 41 members of the Real Estate Developers Association issued a joint statement to condemn violence in the city.

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