Umbrella Movement youth act like “spoiled brats” – Jim Thompson, founder of Crown Worldwide

Jim Thompson doesn’t hold back on Umbrella protesters, university students.


Jim Thompson is not one to mix words and he played it straight at the new Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong, with tough talk for Umbrella protesters and university students.

During the Q&A session at an event co-hosted by the Consulate General of Ireland and the Irish Chamber, Mr Thompson was asked how he viewed the Umbrella Movement that shook Hong Kong last year. He did not have many kind words for Hong Kong’s youth.

“First of all, I think they’re acting like spoiled brats.” he said. “I think of when I arrived here. people lived in tin shacks, they stole electricity and water just to survive, and those were the grandparents of a lot of these kids. They’re now in university, wanting a lot handed to them. That’s one side of it. “

“I started with a thousand bucks, and nothing else. No experience or whatever. Maybe my case is unusual but if you really want to make something of your life, you start out that way and you work your way up.”

Mr Thompson also had some harsh words on the events happening in the Universities and in LegCo. “Honestly, I see these kids doing things in Universities, sort of a rebellion, I don’t have much patience for that. They’re there to get an education, not to manage Hong Kong,” he said. “I’m not so happy with the way LegCo runs, I think it’s starting to stall the development of Hong Kong. When the Brits were here they made things happen, and now it’s a debating society, and a lot of this stuff gets held.”

James E. Thompson is the Chairman and Founder of the Crown Worldwide Group of Companies. He is 75 this year and has a net worth over USD 1.27 billion according to Forbes.com. After establishing his company in Japan in 1963, he moved to Hong Kong in 1978 where he currently resides. Mr. Thompson was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star in 2003 by the Hong Kong Government. During that same year, Mr Thompson, as the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce, was initiated and co-organised the massive Harbourfest concert festival. The event resulted in massive cost overruns, and both the Government and AmCham were heavily criticised. Mr Thompson has been part of many Government committees and councils.

Michael Wong
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Michael Wong

Michael Wong has a background in journalism in Canada and Hong Kong, including stints in print and radio media. He has worked with Metro Radio and CKMS Radio. He also has experience in PR and operations management with Franklin Templeton Investments and community based organisations in Hong Kong, Canada and mainland China. He majored in Political Science and Economics and minored in International Relations at the prestigious University of British Columbia after graduating from St. Paul’s College, Hong Kong.
Michael Wong
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  • Stephen Kent

    By boasting about his business ability and track record, it seems that Mr. Thompson is trying to make the old “you should have been a CEO like me” argument to these people he calls “spoiled brats” – people who just happen to have legitimate concerns about the future of Hong Kong and the way its institutions are being run, and attempted to do something about it, and his implicit argument isn’t really applicable as the main objective of the Occupy movement was to obtain the meaningful universal suffrage for the territory that the Basic Law was supposed to provide, thus ensuring that the CE would be someone who the majority of the people in Hong Kong approve of instead of someone who is merely going to administrate for the type of big businesses that Mr. Thompson owns while cosying up to the CCP. I suppose in a way he does have a point though: in order to have any real say in Hong Kong’s administration and its laws you need to be a tycoon, and all housing suddenly becomes affordable if you are a billionaire.

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  • realist

    Lets see- his father was in the US navy, so he got his first taste of overseas on the back of imperialism touring various liberated/subjugated Asian Pacific nations with his father.

    “I started with a thousand bucks, and nothing else. No experience or whatever. Maybe my case is unusual but if you really want to make something of your life, you start out that way and you work your way up.”

    He started in 1963 in Japan when it was on the cusp of its economic miracle, about to liberalize trade, become a manufacturing power house and grow at 10% a year for a decade. He opened a logistics and transportation company. That is what is called good timing. LIkewise HK in 1978 was a powerhouse. He must have benefied from the guidance, experience and contacts of this Dad from the Navy, as they started the business together.
    So yes, I am sure he worked hard and was smart to spot the opportunity. They did well. But frankly, probably so would many others in the same situation. You don’t have to be that talented to grow a business in a hot new area when general economic growth is 10% a year and labor cheap. Of course due to his ego he puts it down to hard work, but frankly many people work hard without having the same fortunate timing, contacts or opportunities.

    His wikipedia page has a glowing commentary of unattributed quotes about how he is modest, mild mannered and ‘an example of nice guys coming first’. I wonder how much he paid someone to write that?