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An Ordinary Life of Peace, Health and Happiness
Lui Che-woo Biography Sharing Session Took Place in Hong Kong

20 Jan 2016

The Lui Che-woo Autobiography Sharing Session was held on 20 January 2016 at K. Wah Centre, the headquarters of the Group in Hong Kong. “I am an ordinary man who values a peaceful, healthy and happy way of life,” said Dr Lui Che-woo, Chairman of the Group. Encouraged by friends and colleagues who keenly supported the idea, Dr Lui gave the greenlight for publishing his autobiography a few years back. Upon its debut, the book is drawing attention from readers and critics alike. Through his Autobiography, Dr Lui hopes to share with the public his story behind the success, so as to offer an alternative perspective for understanding the society. He also has good advice for the younger generation, “Success is not a forgone conclusion. Likely to succeed are those who know how to foster good relationships by being diligent, trustworthy and humble enough to ask questions.”

At the Sharing Session, Dr Lui eloquently addressed the questions from the three guest hosts –Anne Lee, Deputy Chief Editor of Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Company Limited, Man Cheuk Fei, Founder and Publisher of Master Insight Media Limited and Dr Victor Zheng, Assistant Director of Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and close to 100 journalists from local and overseas media who attended the Session.

Dr Lui Che-woo (3rd from left), Founder and Chairman of K. Wah Group, and guest speakers Man Cheuk Fei (2nd from left), Founder and Publisher of Master Insight Media Limited; Dr Zheng Wan Tai, Victor (right), Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Anne Lee (1st from left), Deputy Chief Editor of Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Company Limited

Integrity: the key to venturing business and weathering hard times

The stories of Dr Lui’s business ventures and the secret of his success have always been a topic of public interest. Dr Lui maintained that for him integrity was the most important virtue. Seizing opportunities in response to the needs of the times, something easier said than done, requires the “right time, right place and right people” and is always a great challenge for business starters.

From a hawker stall selling peanuts, noodles and dessert pastries during wartime when he was 13, to a business empire covering construction materials, properties, hospitality, entertainment & leisure, Dr Lui has developed the Hong Kong-based K. Wah Group into a multinational conglomerate, although he seems to have never lost the youthful sincerity in him. After more than 70 years of hardfought endeavours in the world of business and obviously not a few setbacks and losses, he has learned how to face adversity in peace. The secret? “Never give up if you believe you can do it. Occasional losses are only temporary setbacks, not the end of the world,” explained Dr Lui.

Dr Lui encouraged youngsters in Hong Kong to build a solid foundation before going into their own businesses. “It doesn’t matter which business you are going to pursue. As long as you forge a firm foundation, conduct yourself with integrity and pragmatism, learn with a humble heart, consult veterans when you have a problem and persevere in the face of failure, you will succeed eventually,” he remarked. “It’s easy to know people, but turning connections into a resource or something at an even higher level is truly an art. Knowing a lot of people doesn’t guarantee help when needed. It is your integrity and track record that counts when a friend considers whether he or she should help you or not.”

The young Dr Lui Che-woo (front row, 3rd from right) imported machines from Okinawa, Japan after the Korean War in late 1950s

Dr Lui Che-woo made visits to Europe and Japan to explore overseas construction technologies in 1970s

The LUI Che Woo Prize: sowing a seed for harmony

Lui Che-woo Autobiography, written on the basis of Dr Lui’s narratives of his life, describes his perseverance and resilience in the pursuit of business success, which underlines the spirit of generations of Hong Kong people fighting for a better living amid a sometimes adverse and volatile environment.

Chen Zuo’er, President of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies and former Deputy Director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, says in the preface to the Autobiography, “The charitable care of the venerable Lui for his family and homeland has been extended to the broader community, from Hong Kong to all over the world. The LUI Che Woo Prize has been founded with the aim to encourage the pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty by those among the younger generation with positive motivations. It is a well-sown seed for the realization of a world of goodness and harmony.”

To this, Dr Lui responded during the Sharing Session that he believed “this seed is going to be ‘a seed of positive thoughts’ growing in its own way and in its own time to guide people to goodness. It will last for generations and would eventually fulfill its role of driving the realization of a better world with more peace and less strife.”

Prof Lap-Chee Tsui, Founding President of The Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong and a member of the Board of Governors of LUI Che Woo Prize Limited, the institution responsible for overseeing this precious “seed”, recalled how he became good friends with Dr Lui sharing many thoughts and ideas and how he pledged to support the founding of LUI Che Woo Prize without hesitation. In his preface to the Autobiography, he says, “I proposed the prize to be known as ‘Prize for World Civilisation’, befitting its noble wish of encouraging innovative scientific research and deeds of charity and harmony.” Prof Tsui also urges youngsters to draw lessons from Dr Lui’s stories. Passionate as they are, young people should also take heed to be pragmatic instead of always complaining how they are not able to achieve their lofty ambitions.

The upbringing of children: care, love and experience-sharing

At the Sharing Session, Dr Lui was witty and humorous as ever. One would find it hard to tell the ups and downs and momentous times he had experienced by the mere look of exuberance on his face and his charming comments. A journalist thus remarked, “As a man in his eighties, Mr Lui is no less smart and witty than he was.” He was happy to oblige when requested to take selfies with journalists who ran into him on the way to the venue.

A tough entrepreneur as he was, Dr Lui couldn’t help being sentimental when the topic of raising children was touched upon. He reminisced the years when he had had to work long hours, and how he had squeezed time for his five kids no matter how busy he had been. “You have to be strict and fair with your children and apply the carrot and stick with clear rules. Nurture, love and teach them; let them feel the love of the parents. This way, they won’t go astray when they grow up,” commented Dr Lui.

As the eldest son of the family, Francis Lui has fought alongside his father for more than 35 years. Inevitably, he was subject to rigorous family teaching to ensure an exemplary model for his siblings. Turning 60, Francis appreciates more than ever that his father has done everything for the good of his children. He shares his respect and love for his father in his preface to the book, “In the 1960s, Hong Kong was experiencing an economic downturn and there was enormous pressure running a business. Despite this, father often came home for dinner to talk with me and share his experience in work. I have honed my analytic skills, especially in relation to basic life principles, under this context, and for this I am forever grateful to him.” He also reveals that Dr Lui always teaches younger members in the family and colleagues in the company with patience, out of his prime concern for succession and inheritance.

As a son and an associate in business, Francis sees his father as an extremely energetic person who has always managed to persevere against the odds and chart new horizons. His father’s drive and determination has inspired him beyond words.

Dr Lui cares about the relationship with his family, he will squeeze time for his kids no matter how busy he is

Money as a yardstick for success brings nothing but worries

For Dr Lui, the “rich dad” as described by some Hong Kong media, the secret to getting rich is actually no secret, “Wealth is nothing but a bunch of numbers. Wealth shouldn’t be regarded as an indication of nobility. Rather, it is often a source for worries. If you are too keen on money, you are bound to be getting yourself into trouble. It may sound like an old cliché, but it still holds very true that happiness comes with peace at heart whether you are rich or poor, while he who looks beyond the immediate will be free from worries.” In short, the real priceless treasure is a happy and peaceful life.

Behind the scenes