Shanghai Tang founder slams CY Leung, gov’t and Beijing in speech on Hong Kong’s future

Sir David during his speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, February 2016.
Sir David during his speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, February 2016.

Sir David Tang, founder of fashion chain Shanghai Tang and the members-only China Club, went on the record to slam Chief Executive CY Leung and the central government during a talk on Hong Kong’s future at the Foreign Correspondents Club yesterday, which has since gone viral.

The 60-year-old socialite and businessman’s 15-minute speech dissected, amongst other things, CY Leung’s 2016 Policy Address, which he said was a “silent contortion of the truth”.

Referring to Leung’s comments on how to “innovate for the economy, improve livelihood, foster harmony, and share prosperity” in his policy address, Tang posed a rhetorical question to the crowd. Asking if anyone present actually believed that the government “fosters harmony” or “[shares] prosperity”, he called the words “patronising and condescending” at best, and “meaningless” at worst. 

In reference to the first sentence of Leung’s policy address, which said the government had “focused its efforts on promoting democracy”, Tang questioned whether the address was the work of “a comedian, or perhaps a monkey who accidentally typed […] on a typewriter”.

Still, Tang opined, such behaviour was to be expected from Leung, who “steadfastly refused to meet protesters” throughout the Occupy Movement. Even “hardcore, hardline Chinese Premier Li Peng”, who many branded a murderer for the military crackdown in 1989, met with student protester Wu’er Kaishi on national television, Tang said.



Tang further scrutinised Leung for his failure “to include ‘even a half cedilla’ on the Umbrella Movement” in his speech, which he considers “perhaps the single most significant political event in Hong Kong since [the 1966 riots]”, and contrasted Leung’s choice to not “give the slightest hint of an amoeba of political or social dissatisfaction” in his two-hour-long address, while mentioning “One Belt One Road” some 48 times.

For any hope of a better Hong Kong, Tang said, we would first need a much stronger, and more effective chief executive, instead of the incumbent Leung, whom Tang scathingly branded a “puppet on a string, dancing obsequiously to the tunes and echoes of Zhongnanhai”.

The government has reduced Hong Kong to a “shameful state”, Tang said, which bred the dissatisfaction from which the Umbrella Movement was born. The 60-year-old made mention to “the disturbing case of Lee [Bo] and his colleagues” in a summary of Hong Kong’s problems, as well as “hawkers openly branded as separatists by the Liaison Office, […] the dwindling numbers of visitors from the mainland, financial oscillations in the market, […] the growing number of aged against a falling number of [the] workforce, the umpteen cases of abduction in the mainland about which we hear very little, […] triads [appearing] at demonstrations, and the thorough incompetence of the government in creating a proper cultural anchor in the city.” 

Writer Chip Tsao shared some of Tang’s musings in a Chinese-language Facebook post which has since gone viral, with over 50,000 likes and shares at last count. Commenters expressed their surprise at the “rare show of sense” displayed by outspoken Tang.


Related articles:

Read Sir David Tang’s full speech, ‘Hong Kong’s Future’


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