OBITUARY: Ma Man-kei 1919-2014

Patriotic Macau entrepreneur Ma Man-kei dies aged 94

Prominent businessman exported goods to mainland in second world war

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 1:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 5:05am

Well-known Macau entrepreneur and a former vice-chairman of the country's top political advisory body, Ma Man-kei, died on Monday in Beijing aged 94.

The patriotic businessman and "senior political adviser of the mainland" died of illness, Xinhua reported.

Ma, regarded by the state media as "a distinguished social activist, patriot and close friend of the Communist Party", was appointed vice-chairman of the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference since 1993.

He played a significant role in preparing for the then Portuguese colony's handover before 1999. He was vice-chairman of the Committee for Drafting of the Basic Law for the Macao Special Administrative Region.

Industrialist Chan Wing-kee, whose family has been close to Ma's for decades, praised Ma for his contribution.

"He was well respected in Macau," Chan, a member of the CPPCC standing committee, said. "More than 40 years ago, I was running a factory in Macau. A veteran of my factory passed away and Ma, who was already vice-chairman of the Macao Chamber of Commerce, walked the whole long way to send him off. I found Ma to be a man who greatly treasured friendship."

Leong Iok-wa, a Macau deputy to the National People's Congress, praised Ma for his contribution in education and medical development. "Prior to the handover the Portuguese government didn't do a lot in social infrastructure. Ma's charities helped a lot in those areas," said Leong, who used to work in Kiang Wu Hospital, whose charity group Ma once chaired.

Ho Ming-sze, who was deputy secretary-general of Xinhua's Hong Kong branch in the 1980s, said Ma was one of Macau's first business leaders who forged ties with the Communist Party.

"He began to build the relationship with the Communist Party in 1947," said Ho, who knew Ma for more than 50 years. "Ma even provided support for the Communist Party before it successfully toppled the Kuomintang in 1949."

The tycoon had been treated for heart problems in the People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing since 2007. Ma, often compared with late Hong Kong tycoon-patriot Henry Fok Ying-tung, was known for sending basic materials to the mainland when it was under containment by Western powers in the 1950s.

Ma was born in October 1919 in Nanhai, Guangdong, and grew up in Guangzhou, where he ran his father's food trading business after his father died. He started a business in Hong Kong in the 1930s and moved to Macau and founded many businesses and charity organisations in the '40s.

The State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office sent tributes to Ma's family, praising him for his "lifelong patriotism". Ma was honoured with the Grand Medal of Lotus Flower in 2002. He is survived by seven daughters and two sons.