Occupy Central

Robert Chow Yung: There is another voice in Hong Kong

Robert Chow Yung, the man behind the anti-Occupy Central campaign, says he isn't being political; he just wants harmony for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 5:56am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

For those unfamiliar with Robert Chow Yung, it may be hard to imagine someone so soft-spoken as the leader of an aggressive campaign against the planned Occupy Central protests.

"You may say I'm pro-China. I'm proud of being Chinese [but] I have no links with China. I was born and bred in Hong Kong," says Chow, who denies having a political motive for his crusade against the pro-democracy movement. "People will call you leftist or communist just because you don't fully agree with what the pan-democrats do or say."

With more than four decades of experience in the local media business, he knows how it feels being a news target.

Chow - who has worked for the Hongkong Standard, RTHK and Cable TV, among others - has been viewed with hostility by some media outlets since he started his campaign.

Only recently, he found himself embroiled in a controversy over his nationality, with people accusing him of holding a British passport.

On the other side of the camp, Alliance for True Democracy convenor Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek has also been accused of holding an Australian passport and having given up his Chinese nationality.

The accusations have led to talk over the pair's motives in their respective campaigns.

In a television programme last year, Chow revealed that the pre-handover Hong Kong government had offered him right of abode in Britain under a British nationality scheme that gave 50,000 local elite families full citizenship to ease their fears of remaining in Hong Kong after 1997.

On the show, he said he did not care for the offer and did not cash out on it.

"I'm not interested in British citizenship … I'm a Hong Kong permanent resident and have never held any foreign passport," Chow says.

In an interview with local magazine Eastweek in 2005, Chow described himself as a man who "knows how to win a fight". His résumé offers a glimpse into how he has fought his way up the career ladder over the years.

With just a Form Five certificate, a 17-year-old Chow joined the now-defunct local tabloid The Star as a reporter in 1967 and was quickly promoted to news editor within three years. In 1974, he joined the Independent Commission Against Corruption and was made chief information officer within six years.

In 1984, he rejoined the newspaper business as editor-in-chief of the Hongkong Standard. He left in the early '90s to start the Hong Kong Transit Publishing Company, which became part of the Panda-Recruit Group in 2000 when the group was listed on the stock exchange. He became its chief executive.

But Chow is perhaps best known for his days with government-run radio station RTHK, where he was a part-time talk-show host between 1999 and 2011. In 2011, he was told to leave, triggering speculation that the station wanted to silence government critics. At the time, Chow said he would "never work for RTHK again".

Since then, Chow has spent most of his time on his consultancy business. But last year, he tried his hand in politics, launching the Silent Majority for Hong Kong. The group opposes the Occupy Central movement, which plans to rally protesters to block the Central district if the government does not come up with a satisfactory proposal to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

Earlier this month, Chow also teamed up with leading business groups and pro-China politicians to form the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, further pursuing his campaign against the Occupy movement.

"We want to tell the world that there is another voice in Hong Kong, other than just that of the Occupy Central protesters," Chow says. "Some people may not like the government policies … but most still want peace and harmony. They don't want to see violence, chaos and turmoil."


Robert Chow

Age: 64

Career highlights:
1970 News editor, The Star
1980 Chief information officer, ICAC
1984 Editor-in-chief, Hongkong Standard
1991 Founded Hong Kong Transit Publishing Company
1999 Part-time programme host, RTHK
2000 Chief executive, Panda-Recruit
2002 Founded consultancy firm Robert Chow and Friends

2013 Convenor, Silent Majority for Hong Kong
2014 Convenor, Alliance for Peace and Democracy