Staff warned of hard times at memorial for Nina Wang

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 April, 2008, 12:00am

Chinachem Group employees were warned yesterday of difficulties ahead for the property empire, formerly run by tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, as the legal battle over the late chairwoman's will continues.

Speaking at a private memorial service marking the first anniversary of Wang's death, Kung Yan-sum, the younger brother of the woman who had been the richest in Asia, repeatedly bowed to the group's 400 employees attending the event at Nina Tower in Tsuen Wan.

He thanked them for their hard work over the past year, saying it showed true dedication to his sister.

'Employees are united in working for the company despite all the difficulties and obstacles we faced in the past year. The group is operating OK,' he said.

'Surely there will be more difficulties ahead, but I believe we can overcome with our united spirits and hard work ... My sister will be very pleased to see that,' he said, without elaborating what the difficulties might be.

Mr Kung did not mention the looming legal battle over Wang's fortune, which is estimated to be at least HK$100 billion.

There are four parties staking a claim to the fortune: the Chinachem Charitable Foundation; Wang Din-shin, the father of Wang's late husband Teddy Wang Teh-huei; Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung; and fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen, who emerged soon after Wang's death to claim her estate.

Businessmen including Chevalier Group chairman Chow Yei-ching and Cheuk Nang Holdings chairman Cecil Chao Sze-tsung joined the group's employers for the one-hour remembrance ceremony in Nina Tower's grand hall.

A photograph of a lively Wang in pigtails, showing Nina Tower behind her, was placed on a stage surrounded by white candles.

Two more huge photographs stood next to the stage. On the left was a blow-up of a cover of Forbes magazine, showing Wang on a yacht with a big smile, while the other showed her speaking on a mobile phone.

About 20 wreaths lined the grand hall, many sent by Chinachem Group employees.

The simple, non-religious ceremony began with a 35-minute video showing pictures of Wang with her colleagues, a clip illustrating her path to success and local businessmen delivering short commemorative speeches.

Wang, also nicknamed Little Sweetie, died of cancer last year.

Her death came less than two years after she won a decade-long battle with her father-in-law over the estate of her late husband, who was kidnapped in 1990, never to be seen again.