Dr. Chan Sui Kau (1926-2018)
GBM, GBS, OBE, JP
Dr. Chan Sui Kau, GBM, GBS, OBE, JP, was a renowned Hong Kong industrialist, philanthropist and founder of Yangtzekiang Garment Limited and YGM Trading Limited. He was a great contributor to Hong Kong’s garment and textile industry and the economy as a whole. He devoted himself to Hong Kong in many ways, most notably in the garment industry, labour protection and youth education and development.
Mr. Chan was born in Guangzhou in 1926 and had seven brothers and sisters. During the turbulent years, Dr. Chan and his family sojourned between Canton, Macau and Hong Kong. In 1941, Japan invaded Hong Kong and so the Chan family fled from Hong Kong to Macau. At the age of 16, Mr. Chan stopped schooling and began on his journey in the trading business; and the family resettled in Hong Kong after the war. In 1949, at the age of 23, Mr. Chan founded Yangtzekiang Garment Manufacturing Company. He established the company with his two brothers, but unfortunately his brothers died young and left him to support the entire family on his own.
Mr. Chan grew with Hong Kong; he witnessed the Hong Kong 1967 Riots, was involved in textile quota conferences, labour negotiations and experienced the Sino-British talks, tackled issues relating to Hong Kong’s future and economic transformation, and went through numerous economic and financial crises and SARS. Mr. Chan remained fearless, and with integrity and a big heart he led the garment manufacturing industry through numerous difficulties and turned them into opportunities.
In 1969, Yangtzekiang Garment Manufacturing Company became a publicly listed company in Hong Kong. In 1979, economic reform began in China and Mr. Chan was one of the first to lead groups to collaborate with the state-owned enterprises, and ‘Wuxi Cotton Factory’ was set up as China’s first Sino-foreign joint venture. The factory continues to run strongly, domestically as well as internationally. In 1987, YGM Trading Limited was spun off from Yangtzekiang Garment Limited and became a separately-listed public company. Its main business is in garment wholesaling and retailing with its own brands as well as licensed international brands. YGM Group has grown from a single factory into a diversified group in the garment industry, providing services that cover all stages of garment manufacturing and gaining considerable reputation both in Hong Kong and internationally.
Not only was Mr. Chan successful in business, he also gave back to the community. People liked to call him ‘Uncle Kau.’ Mr. Chan was friendly, generous and noted for his philanthropy, especially in education for youth. Mr. Chan regretted that he was forced to stop schooling because of the war, so he wished to support educators in providing young people with sound education. Over the years, Mr. Chan had given generously (many times anonymously) to establishments and projects in Hong Kong, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Beijing, not only for education but also in the areas of healthcare, infrastructure, community building and youth development. In particular, he gave back to his hometown of Dongguan in the early days, for developing agriculture research, education and healthcare. His belief is ‘it is more of a blessing to give than to receive.’
Mr. Chan had six children whom all now have their own families are successful in their own right. Mr. Chan was also able to connect with his great grandchildren. He has created a loving and harmonious family because apart from being dedicated to his work, Mr. Chan also greatly cherished his family, abided by the family creed and valued unity amongst members. For decades Mr. Chan and his late wife, Mrs. Lam Moon Chun, loved and respected each other, setting an example for their descendants. In 2009, they were baptized together in front of family and close friends.
His creed: ‘Like a tree, if the roots are strong, the branches can spread widely.’ (「處世樹為模，根穩任從枝上舞」); ‘Like an ancient Chinese coin, there is a square inside with integrity but its perimeter is round for smoothness.’ (「立身錢作樣，內方還要外邊圓」) This creed is set up in ’Yu Qing Garden’ (餘慶小築) in Dongguan, donated by the ‘Chan Family Charitable Trust’ for the family to ponder and follow, in order for the legacy to continue and the roots remembered.