23 October 2016
If Ricky Wong (left) wins a seat in Legco, he could have public debates with Leung Chun-ying in the chamber. Photo: HKEJ, Xinhua
If Ricky Wong (left) wins a seat in Legco, he could have public debates with Leung Chun-ying in the chamber. Photo: HKEJ, Xinhua

HKTV boss Ricky Wong hints at running in Legco election

If you can’t beat them, join them.

Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (01137.HK) chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kai is said to be interested in taking part in the Legislative Council election, joining a large number of new faces in what promises to be a gripping contest.

It isn’t too much of a surprise given that the telecom maverick, whose ambition to build a TV network has been thwarted so far, is not accustomed to staying too long outside the spotlight.

Wong told RTHK, “We should give good thought to the future of Hong Kong in a time of intensified, worsening political situation.”

He said he did not like functional constituencies, which might be a hint that he will probably pick a constituency that directly elects its legislator – if he opts to go further.

Wong, who owns 44.5 per cent of HKTV, which has a market capitalization of HK$1.3 billion (US$170 million), lives on the Peak.

If he is serious about running in the election, he will be following in the footsteps of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa, who came from the business sector before joining politics. 

Both subsequently fell sharply in the public’s esteem, however.

Still, many businessmen have found it worthwhile to enter politics, leveraging their popularity on the hustings to take their business careers to a higher level.

Donald Trump is an example. The presumptive Republican nominee for US president has nothing to lose even if he is defeated by the democratic nominee in the upcoming election.

For Wong, however, it is a different story.

Wong hates boredom. He always wants to make a difference, but sadly he has not accomplished much after he failed to secure a free-to-air TV license for his company.

Last week, HKTV decided to drop its case against the government for denying it a licence to the Court of Final Appeal.

His fans can only guess what kind of politician Wong would become.

Yes, he appeals to a young audience’s desire for a democratic flourishing of different voices in promoting his efforts to create a new TV station, but he has also lobbied the government heavily and taken it to court over the TV license.

That is the behavior of a typical businessman, who plays different cards without necessarily committing himself to a particular agenda – a useful habit a chief executive brings to politics.

Wong may have company as a top executive running in the September election.

Many expect Daniel Chong Wai-chung, former chief executive of the Yata retail chain, who is known for brave and articulate remarks, to become a candidate for Legco.

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EJ Insight writer

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