The daughter of the founder of restaurant chain Maxim’s has doubled down on earlier remarks against Hong Kong’s protesters, saying she has lost hope in the city’s next two generations and that young people have no idea what they are doing.
Annie Wu Suk-ching, 71, made the remarks in a hard-hitting interview with the pro-Beijing Global Times, as Hong Kong nears five months of anti-government protests which were sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
In September, Wu had denounced the campaign at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying “the views of a small group of radical protesters do not represent the views of all 7.5 million Hongkongers”. Her comments enraged protesters, fuelling a campaign of vandalism against Maxim’s outlets and franchises it operates, such as Starbucks Coffee, Jade Garden, Genki Sushi and Simplylife.
In her latest interview published on Monday, Wu said: “I think we have lost two entire young generations.
“I have given up hope [on these youngsters] and will not waste my time talking to them, as they have no idea what they are doing and what they should do ... Their brains have been occupied by other ideas and that is irrevocable.”
In September, students from the Chinese Foundation Secondary School in Hong Kong launched a protest saying Wu had made verbal threats to expel and fire striking students and staff in a meeting with them. She is a former supervisor and a serving member of the school’s sponsoring body.
The school later clarified that students with parents’ permission to boycott classes would not be punished.
In the Global Times interview, Wu also slammed civil servants in the city, saying there were flaws in the system.
“They do not know how to deal with a crisis, having no capability or experience,” she said, adding that civil servants were among those arrested by police amid protests. “Are these civil servants supposed to be working for the government or taking to the streets?”
Wu said she expected Hong Kong’s economic downturn to last at least three years, with tourism the worst hit.
Her remarks did not sit well with students such as Chan, 22, from the University of Hong Kong, who suggested Wu was overestimating her authority.
“I don’t think she has done much for youngsters. I wonder if she is eligible to say she has given up hope on us,” he said. “She has been enjoying the protection of her elder generation, and the support of Hongkongers who have spent much on her brand, in climbing up to that social status.”
He said the vandalism on Maxim’s outlets happened only because protesters had failed to move the government despite exhausting all peaceful means.
Separately, businessman Christopher Chuang Tze-cheung launched a HKD$10 million reward for any Hongkonger who could offer a solution for the ongoing unrest.
The head of TGM Group, which owns extensive financial technology businesses on the mainland, said he would only entertain livelihood issues and not political ones, and applicants could submit their proposals for a vote.
One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don't go into government.