Cheong Hing Co/Cheung Hing Construction (祥興建造) – leading building contractor

York Lo: Cheong Hing Co/Cheung Hing Construction (祥興建造) – leading building contractor

Cheong Hing Co + Cheung Hing Construction Image 1 York Lo

Left: Cheong Hing ad with picture of the Queen’s Garden civil servant quarters on May Road which was completed in 1949. (HKBCA) Right: Cheong Hing founder and manager Yee Chung (HKBCA yearbook)

Cheong Hing Co and its successor firm Cheung Hing Construction Co Ltd (the Chinese name stayed the same) has been a leading building contractor in Hong Kong since its inception in 1928, working on many major projects for the HK government and the private sector.

The principals of the firm were all natives of Sun Wui prefecture in Guangdong province, the most prominent of whom was Sir Kenneth Fung Ping-fan (馮秉芬1911-2002), the son of Fung Ping-shan (馮平山 co-founder of Bank of East Asia and leading Nam Pak Hong merchant) and best-known for introducing McDonald’s to HK, founding Ocean Park and his political career (member of Urban Council from 1951-60, Legislative Council from 1959-65, Executive Council from 1962-72). It is unclear if Sir Kenneth’s father Fung Ping-shan who died in 1931 was involved with the founding of Cheong Hing and although Sir Kenneth was chairman of the firm at one point, the day to day management of the firm was handled by others such as the founder and longtime manager of the firm was Yee Chung (余松, 1886-1971). Yee was the chairman of the HK Building Contractors Association (1934-35) and the Lo Pan Temple Kwong Yuet Tong and outside of the construction industry also served as chairman of the San Wui Commercial Society (新會商會) and director of Po Leung Kuk and Yu’s Family Association (WKYP, 1971-12-21)

Before the War, Cheong Hing’s most prominent project was the construction of the 14-story, second generation Bank of East Asia Building in Central, which opened in 1935. It was also contracted by the government to build the Refugee’s Camp at King’s Park in Kowloon in 1938 which comprised of 24 huts with accommodation for 1368 persons. (HK Telegraph, 14 November, 1938)

Cheong Hing Co + Cheung Hing Construction Image 2 York Lo

Left: Yee Chung as chairman of the San Wui Commercial Society delivering his speech at the inauguration of its 35th board. To his left were president Kenneth Fung (also his business partner), Ho Lee-po, Ho Kwan-tung, Wong Chung-man (distributor of Toshiba in HK; his father Wong Yun-tong was a co-founder of Bank of East Asia while his son Allan Wong is founder of Vtech) (WKYP, 1967-4-11)

Cheong Hing Co + Cheung Hing Construction Image 3 York Lo

Ho Shek-kong (HKBCA School yearbook); Right: Fung Kee-wai (left) and Yu Fook-ha (余福遐, right) at the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (WKYP, 1954-11-14)

By the 1950s, the management of Cheong Hing also included Ho Ka-ming (何家銘), who was co-manager of the firm alongside Yee, Ho Shek-kong (何石江, 1910-1994), Fung Kee-wai (馮琪偉) and Yee Chung’s son Yu Man-kit (余文傑). The team was closely involved with Kwong Yuet Tong (廣悅堂), the organization which managed the historic Lo Pan Temple (Lo Pan being the patron saint of contractors) in Ching Lin Terrace (see article on Li Po-lung and the Seven Terraces) in Kennedy Town with Ho Ka-ming having served as its chairman, Ho Shek-kong as its treasurer and Fung Kee-wai as its vice chairman and Ho Shek-kong’s wife Fok Nga-yin (霍雅), who ran the To Suk Middle School (陶淑中學) in Sai Ying Pun, was the first headmistress of the Kwong Yuet Tong Primary School (廣悅堂魯班學校) in the Wah Fu Estate in Aberdeen when It was founded in 1968 (it operated until 2008 and counted singer Emil Chau 周華健 and TV producer/screenwriter Wai Ka-fai 韋家輝 as alumni).

Born in 1920, Fung Kee-wai studied at the Government Vernacular School (官立漢文中學, renamed Clementi Secondary School 金文泰中學) in HK before earning his B.S. from MIT and M.S. from University of Michigan in the US. Before returning to HK to join Cheong Hing, he worked as an electrical engineer at Bell Labs in the US. Aside from Cheung Hing, Fung was director and later chairman of South China Insurance, a firm which also included his fellow Cheong Hing director Sir Kenneth Fung and the leather magnate Yeung Ngok-fai (see article on Kwong Fat Yuen Hong) on its board. Fung was also active in the alumni affairs of the Clementi School and served as chairman of its Alumni Association.

Cheong Hing Co + Cheung Hing Construction Image 4 York Lo

Left: Cheong Hing’s ad in 1950 featuring all its major projects around the time (HKBCA yearbook) Right: the second generation Bank of East Asia Building built by Cheong Hing (BEA)  

According to the 1950 ad above, Cheong Hing was involved in the construction of the Oriental Corporation mill (see article on Oriental Pacific) and the Ling Yuet Sin Creche in 1949 and police stations in Kowloon City, Shatin, Castle Peak and Sai Kung in 1950. From 1950-52, Cheong Hing was involved in the construction of the Alexandra Building in Central, which had total cost of HK$5.2 million, of which HK$3 million being materials.

South Bay Road Residence Fung (2)

Picture of Kenneth Fung’s residence on South Bay Road in Repulse Bay in 1952 which was built by Cheong Hing and designed by Palmer & Turner (Hong Kong and Far East builder, vol.9 no.4 (November & December, 1952))

The largest project Cheong Hing was involved in during the 1950s however was the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 aka Tai Lam Reservoir, see article). Commencing construction in 1952 and completed in 1957, with a storage capacity of 4.5 billion gallons Tai Lam Chung was the largest reservoir in Hong Kong at the time. The project was critical to the sustainability of Hong Kong at the time as water supply was stretched by the massive influx of refugees from the mainland after 1949 and the purchase of Dong River water from the Chinese government did not commence until 1965. Some 1,600 workers were employed to help build the 200-foot-high and 2,200-foot-long dam, which covered 440 acres and used 400,000 tons of rock excavated from a nearby quarry. Given the scale of the project, the contracting party was Major Contractors, Ltd (聯大建築), a joint venture was formed in 1952 by Cheong Hing with Kadoorie-controlled Hongkong Engineering and Construction Co and Lam Woo & Co (聯益建造). Ho Shek-kong and Fung Kee-wai were particularly involved with the project.

Cheong Hing Co + Cheung Hing Construction Image 5 York Lo

Ho Ka-ming unveiling the statue of Lo Pan at the Kwong Yuet Tong school at the Wah Fu housing estate in 1987. Other Cheung Hing directors such as Ho Shek-kong, Lam Man-fai and Fung Kee-wai were also present (WKYP, 1987-5-18)

In 1958, Cheung Hing Construction Co Ltd was incorporated as the successor firm to Cheong Hing Co. The firm remains a major contractor for public and private projects to this day. In 1980, Sir Kenneth Fung Ping-fan was listed as chairman of Cheung Hing while its directors include his son Kenneth Fung Hing-cheung, Ho Ka-ming, Ho Shek-kong, Fung Kee-wai, Yu Man-kit and Lam Man-fai. Ho Shek-kong had served as director and later honorary advisor of the HKBCA. He died in July 1994 at the age of 84 and his son Christopher Ho Wing-on (何永安, 1950-) had also served as a director of Cheung Hing Construction although he is better known as the controversial chairman and majority owner of Grande Group, a leading electronics manufacturer.   

This article was first posted on 24th June 2019.

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