The greedy, giddy days of HK tycoons

Now, barriers to elite circle is higher, says author who offers an insider look at taipans

ST Feb 03, 2013

A 1995 picture of the Suntec City board in a book by Mr Robert Wang (back row, third from left). The board included tycoons (front, from left) Chou Wen Hsien, Lee Shau Kee, Run Run Shaw, Frank Tsao, Li Ka Shing and Cheng Yu Tung. — PHOTO: ROBERT WANG

By Li Xueying, Hong Kong Correspondent In Hong Kong

Along-held belief in Asia’s bastion of capitalism – that “greed is good” – is fast crumbling, says a man who for much of his life abided by this axiom as he strove to get rich.

“Hong Kongers are resenting that attitude now,” says lawyer-turned-businessman Robert Wang, not least because they feel they no longer have the opportunities to become rich the way the present elite did.

He should know. After all, in the giddy, greedy days of the 1980s and 1990s, the 68-year-old rubbed shoulders with Hong Kong’s richest men.

“It’s more difficult to become a tycoon today,” observes Mr Wang, referring to the “clannish” networks, cartels and other formidable entry barriers in high-yield industries like property.

And as the income gap widens further, this sense of impotence is fuelling “greater dissatisfaction and social unrest”.

“The opportunities are not there any more,” Mr Wang said in a recent interview. “I feel sorry for my children, let alone my grandchildren.”
Continue reading “The greedy, giddy days of HK tycoons”