Renowned Hong Kong engineer Dr Joseph Chow Ming-Kuen dies at 77 after cancer battle

Described as ‘wonderful and gentle soul’, illustrious HKU alumnus sorely missed by peers and subordinates

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2018, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2018, 8:03pm

Renowned engineer Dr Joseph Chow Ming-Kuen, who once proposed building flats above one of the world’s busiest container terminals as a long-term solution to Hong Kong’s housing shortage, has died. He was 77.

In an email to graduates, Professor Christopher Chao, dean of engineering at the University of Hong Kong, said the school’s distinguished alumnus died on Saturday.

Chow is survived by his wife, former Executive Council and Legislative Council member Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, and their two daughters. He was known to have battled cancer recently, but the cause of death was unclear on Sunday.

“Dr Chow ... passionately and selflessly dedicated himself to his alma mater and Hong Kong,” the email read. “His wonderful and gentle soul will forever remain in our hearts and he will be sorely missed.”

A civil and structural engineer by profession, Chow also held several public offices. He was chairman of the Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) and a member of the Housing Authority and Hospital Authority.

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He was also a president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, as well as chairman of the Hong Kong Engineers Registration Board and the Hong Kong Construction Workers Registration Authority.

Dr Chow ... passionately and selflessly dedicated himself to his alma mater and Hong Kong
Professor Christopher Chao, engineering dean, HKU

It was understood that he was battling stage-four cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

Last year, he proposed the idea of building flats above the Kwai Tsing Container Terminal, saying it would not involve any additional costs as construction methods would be “more or less similar” to other residential developments.

Chow also said it would be less time-consuming than relocating the entire terminal, which could take at least 15 years.

Veteran structural engineer Ngai Hok-yan said Chow was his first boss.

“He was a good person and, as we were both from Shanghai, he would take care of me,” Ngai said.

He added that Chow treated subordinates well and was willing to give them opportunities.

An HKEAA spokeswoman said: “During [his seven-year] tenure, he led the [HKEAA] in modernising and expanding its assessment services.”

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Chow graduated from HKU in 1964. As a student, he was elected chairman of the HKU Engineering Society and organised its golden anniversary celebrations in 1962 – a role he would reprise when the faculty marked its centenary celebrations in 2012.

He was the founding president of the HKU Engineering Alumni Association and was conferred an honorary university fellowship in 2013.

Chow was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1992 and given an OBE – a British honour which recognises contributions to the arts, sciences and society – in 1997.