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Hong Kong billionaire ends silence, urges protesters to think

Hong Kong billionaire ends silence, asks protesters to think. #YahooFinance


Hong Kong billionaire ends silence, asks protesters to think. YahooFinance

Ten weeks into the protests that have rattled the Asian financial hub to its core, Hong Kong ’s billionaires are beginning to break their silence as the costs of escalating violence mount.

Woo’s comments, published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, come as the city’s airport canceled flights after a night of clashes that saw riot cops fire tear gas in a subway station and protesters lash out at undercover officers. Two months of unrest have also weighed on the territory’s stock market, wiping more than $1 billion from Woo’s personal wealth.

The perceived passivity of the police response to that incident spurred outrage and shifted the protesters’ focus from the extradition bill to law enforcement and the territory’s government more broadly. Weakened by the turmoil, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to resign. She has followed Beijing’s stance not to give in to protesters’ demands, which include an independent inquiry into the use of force by police and the release of detainees, following hundreds of arrests.

Woo, Li and Cheng also were among billionaires who opposed plans for a mass sit-in at the city’s financial district in 2014. Cheng said at the time that the protests -- led by an activist group known as Occupy Central With Love and Peace -- could offend Communist Party leaders in Beijing and hurt the company’s jewelry sales in Hong Kong.

Sun Hung Kai issued a statement on Tuesday asking protesters to think about their actions.

Story continuesHousing CrisisSome development tycoons say Hong Kong’s population has reason for discontent. Lan Kwai Fong Group head Allan Zeman said on Bloomberg TV Monday that urgent solutions are needed to address the territory’s housing crisis.

The son of an architect, Shanghai-born Woo moved to Hong Kong as a child amid the city’s postwar construction boom. He studied business at Columbia University and married the daughter of tycoon Yue-kong Pao. Woo later structured his father-in-law’s holdings as Wheelock & Co., which he stepped down from as chairman in 2015. He was replaced by his son Douglas.

Read more: Yahoo Singapore

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