Stanley Lau – successful businessman and a dedicated public servant
Entrepreneur was often at loggerheads with unionists, but even his adversaries recognised his commitment to serving the community
Stanley Lau Chin-ho may not have been as widely known as other tycoons. But the late industrialist was arguably just as influential. Not only did he embody the entrepreneurship that has made the city so successful, he also helped shape many government policies and decisions through his positions in a wide range of advisory bodies. The 66-year-old was still participating at a forum on Saturday, during which he was booed by unionists fighting for standard working hours, before he suffered a heart attack at home and died at Kwong Wah Hospital, hours before he was due to speak at the weekly City Forum on Sunday.
Lau represents the spirit that defines Hong Kong’s success. Armed with only HK$100,000 in capital, the former hotel employee started his watch business in the 1980s and, in 1994, won the Young Industrialist Award. But what set him apart from other entrepreneurs was his dedication and commitment to public service. At the time of his death, he was holding no fewer than seven public service posts, including the chair at the Hong Kong Productivity Council, as well as membership of panels that dealt with standard working hours and other labour issues. With 70 per cent of his time spent on public service, he was one of the most dedicated government advisers.
As the voice of the business sector, Lau was a natural target of unionists. His stance on labour issues and occasional attacks on youngsters made him even less popular among certain quarters in society. But his straight-talking style also won him wide respect. This was reflected in the outpouring of tributes from allies and adversaries alike. He was praised by fellow industrialists and government officials for his contribution to economic and social development. Unionists who had worked with him on advisory bodies were also impressed that he was always well prepared for every meeting. His business background may not have made him a popular figure among grass-roots workers, but he deserves a place in Hong Kong history for his success and commitment to serving the community.