He is widely regarded as Asia's richest man, but it is not often we get to read the thoughts of this billionaire's inner mind. However, at a recent speech to the students of Shantou University, Li Ka-shing outlined a few of his ethical concerns about the future.
KS Li told the students of Shantou that we live in an era "full of contradictions", with every area of our lives being radically transformed. However, Li laments, society seems to be losing its fabric. Using the analogy of a train, he notes: "This high speed train doesn't seem to have a destination. And the passengers on board don't seem to know where they are going either."
He says we have more information, and yet "we are not necessarily wiser". He notes that "in our confusing battle for maximum efficiency, life could become very cruel. Humanity could be lost. We have to move faster than others every day, without a moment to pause and think what kind of new model we need to adapt. Meanwhile we face economic imbalance, environmental destruction and other challenges posed to human dignity and peace."
Against this bleak outlook, Li notes that the one saving grace is education itself - although clearly it has to be the right sort of education. His hope is that the students' will gain from their education an "inspiration to shoulder up the social burdens and contribute to the society" of China.
One infers from Li's speech that he feels education is not just a piece of paper that ensures you get a job at an investment bank. It should round the man or woman into decent, thinking members of society and impart a deeper knowledge of what is fundamentally right and wrong. Embedded in education should be 'ethics'.
Possibly it takes a great capitalist such as KS Li to say this and gain our attention.
And on a final note, he also told the students that when he was young he never wanted to be an entrepreneur, a statement which must have amazed 99% of them. Rather, he said, he always dreamed of being a professor or a doctor.