Li Ka-Shing, the richest man in Asia and chairman of the board at Cheung Kong Holdings, a leading Hong Kong-based multi-national conglomerate, provided a noteworthy interview in the Chinese tabloid Southern Metropolis Daily on Nov. 23.
One day before the interview was published, Cheung Kong Holdings received an envelope containing an unknown white powder. The police were called immediately.
Li said that when making investments, it’s essential to choose a place governed by the rule of law. Otherwise, stockholders’ rights and interests will be meaningless. Li also explained for the first time why he has moved volumes of investments overseas. He said that in a healthy society, enterprises work closely with the government; a government should be able to act fairly and justly on the basis of law and order.
Two billion yuan ransom for Li’s son
During the interview, Li talked publicly for the first time about his son’s kidnapping in 1996. Li’s oldest son Victor was kidnapped by the notorious gangster Cheung Tze-Keung, who came to Li’s home and asked for 2 billion yuan. Li agreed immediately, but said he only had 1 billion yuan cash on hand and would have to withdraw the rest from the bank.
Li’s calmness actually surprised Cheung. He asked: “How can you be so calm?”
“Because it’s my fault,” Li answered. “My family is well known in Hong Kong, but we haven’t prepared for this kind of contingency. For instance, when I drive myself to work early in the morning, just a couple of cars could block me and put me in danger. Surprisingly, we haven’t got security. I need to think this over.”
Li gave Cheung some advice: “Now that you’ve got so much money, it should last for the rest of your life. This is the only chance you have to reform yourself and turn over a new leaf. No one can help you if you ever go wrong again.”
One day, Cheung called Li. “I’ve lost all of my money to gambling. Can you tell me how I should invest?”
Li answered: “I told you to become a good person. This is the only advice I can give you. Now you only have one choice, which is to leave; otherwise, you’re just going to have a miserable life.”
In 1998, Cheung was arrested in China and charged with smuggling ammunition and kidnapping. He was sentenced to death, and his property of more than 600 million yuan was confiscated. Cheung was executed in December 1998 at the age of 43.
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