Li group cuts ties with ex-taipan

Top News | Jane Cheung 10 Dec 2019

Li Ka-shing's conglomerate has distanced itself from Simon Murray after its former non-executive director said the tycoon should not have meddled in the current unrest.

The clarification from CK Hutchison came hours after Murray was quoted in a media interview, saying his former boss should not be involved in recent anti-fugitive protests as that would make the Chinese government unhappy.

Murray, 79, was referring to how the 91-year-old tycoon published advertisements on newspapers signed off with "Hong Kong resident Li Ka-shing" in August calling for an end to anger and violence.

The advertisements had been controversial at the time as they were said to carry different meanings - including one interpretation saying it sympathizes with youngsters, asking authorities not to exploit them further.

Li had also said he hoped the government would "keep one side of the net open" for the "future masters" of Hong Kong.

CK Hutchison said in a statement yesterday that Murray resigned as group managing director of Hutchison Whampoa Limited in August 1993 and quit as an independent non-executive director in 2007.

Murray stayed on as an independent non-executive director of Cheung Kong Holdings but resigned from the position in May 2017.

"Therefore, Mr Murray's personal opinions do not reflect that of the group nor Mr Li Ka-shing," the group said.

Since the 1980s, Li has led the group to "actively look for investments in China and abroad," and its business strategy and direction has not changed.

"During that time, Mr Li established the Li Ka Shing Foundation in 1980, which donated over HK$26 billion with about 80 percent of its projects within the Greater China region," it said.

It said the foundation is in the forefront of education reform and medical research initiatives, which adheres to Li's vision of "changing world, unchanging promise" to develop a better society and inspire societal improvement.

"Mr Li's love for country and Hong Kong is evident by his actions throughout the years," it said.

In the interview published by Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily yesterday, Murray also said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should resign.

Lam was the person in charge of the government "but she said she could not resign."

The British businessman and author argued: "She can definitely do so if she wants to, and it would be a big leap forward to make things right.

"She is the one who caused the chaos of today. She made everyone angry. If she is sick tomorrow, how can she not resign?" he asked.

"If she breaks her leg, she can resign. There's no way to say she isn't allowed to do so. It's all trash talk."

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