Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung says that young people in Hong Kong are living lives which are “too comfortable,” and they do not care about innovation.

Leung, now the group chairman and CEO of Nan Fung Group, was speaking at a youth forum hosted by the University of Hong Kong about global entrepreneurship.

Antony Leung (left). Photo: HKFP.

Leung suggested that Hong Kong youth should seek opportunities in mainland China.

“The Hong Kong market is certainly too small, the mainland market is very large,” he said. “I will encourage Hong Kong students to look into the mainland market. All kinds of opportunities there.”

“Secondly, most Hong Kong people – I hate to say – they are probably too comfortable,” he said.

Leung said that if people in the mainland do not innovate and seek out opportunities, they would not be able to lead very comfortable lives.

“Whereas in Hong Kong, because of the stage of economic development, because of the family protection, and because of the care of the Hong Kong government… The young people in Hong Kong are probably very comfortable, and because they are too comfortable, they probably would not care, full stop.”

The HKU forum. Photo: HKU DreamCatchers, via Facebook.

Leung is no stranger to controversy and often comments on Hong Kong’s education policy. Last year, he said that the teaching language for Chinese should be Mandarin.

“Why not [teach] Chinese in Mandarin? Not everyone’s mother tongue is Cantonese, if we teach Chinese in Mandarin, maybe writing abilities could be better,” he said.

He added that he did not propose the policy whereby subjects can be taught in the students’ mother tongue in the early 2000s, when many schools turned from teaching in English to Cantonese. He also said some subjects such as science could be taught in English, as students will be able to learn English words like “server” and “monitor”, which are used internationally.

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Leung was appointed as financial secretary in 2001. He resigned in 2003 after he was revealed to have bought a HK$790,000 Lexus car around two months before the government announced it would increase first registration tax for vehicles by a large margin. The move saved him around HK$190,000.

(From left) Former financial secretary Antony Leung, then-Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying and then-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. File

Leung explained at the time the purchase was for driving his wife and children, and admitted he was “careless” in not avoiding a conflict of interest. He also donated double of the amount he saved to the Community Chest of Hong Kong. He was not charged by the government.

He was often rumoured to be joining the chief executive race earlier this year, but he did not submit any nominations.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.