Walking the Tycoons' Rope
How ambition drove a poor boy from Ningbo to compete with the
richest men of Hong Kong and Singapore
MEMOIR / HONG KONG
Robert Wang fled the Chinese civil war at the age of five and came to Hong
Kong with nothing. The colony was a harsh place in the 1950s and 1960s.
But he was determined to rise to the top – and through hard work and
resolve, he got there. The law firm he founded grew into the city’s fifth
With the clock
ticking towards the handover of Hong Kong to China, and no one knowing
what the end of British rule would bring, Robert hatched an audacious
scheme to safeguard the fortunes of Hong Kong’s richest tycoons. He would
convince Singapore to take them in.
At last, he was
walking with kings: dealing one-on-one with the most powerful businessmen
and politicians of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. It was an exhilarating
experience – but climbing so high has its dangers. After unwittingly
offending the wrong power brokers, he was cast aside and left to defend
himself against the damnation of corporate rumours.
rags-to-riches story offers a rare look inside the unimaginably wealthy
world of Hong Kong’s property tycoons; but also, as he tells the tale of
four generations of his family, we learn that it is the traditional values
of tolerance, filial piety and loyalty which endure.
read." – Sir Run Run Shaw, Founder, Shaw Prize
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was born poor, was looked down upon by others all through my childhood –
but I felt this burning desire to make good if only to put a stop to all
the prejudice I had endured. My ambition drove me to climb up to dizzy
heights. I dealt with the tycoons of Hong Kong and Singapore on a
one-on-one basis only to be struck down when I committed what can only be
described as a trivial ‘sin’."–
Robert Wang was interviewed by
Time Out Hong Kong
cautionary tale of greed and ambition and also a fascinating look back at
a Hong Kong that no longer exists - that tantalizing, Westernized city of
dreams for mainland immigrants who managed to escape the Spartan world of
communism under Mao Zedong.
... Ironically, Suntec, Wang's biggest accomplishment, leads to his
humiliating downfall as he is outmaneuvered by the board's chairman in his
quest for more power, and then manages to offend one of Singapore's
richest men; at the same time, his marriage to Elaine is falling apart.
... publication could not be more timely, coinciding as it does with a
growing resentment among ordinary people toward the tycoon class in Hong
Kong, which now has the largest wealth gap in the developed world."
"A rare look into
the world of Hong Kong's property tycoons and how ruthless they can be.” –
South China Morning Post
Hear Robert talk about
his story on
RTHK Radio 3
“Walking the Tycoons' Rope offers a
Peeping Tom-like view of Hong Kong's most well-known tycoons and their
unlovely world. Shudder-inducing glimpses into familiar personalities,
business dealings, family relationships and value systems turn this book –
like all well-documented train wrecks – into truly compulsive reading. …
this excellent memoir has enduring social history value.” – South China
“The insider’s guide to understanding Hong
Kong’s tycoon scene.” – Hong Kong Tatler
... has a gift for picking out the
most relevant, interesting and entertaining anecdotes, though the real
situations leading to the end of his Singaporean dream are difficult for
an outsider to understand. Nevertheless, Walking the Tycoons' Rope
is a surprising and unlikely page turner." –