Annam Guild: The Hui Family and Lune Hing Cheong (聯興昌)
York Lo: Annam Guild: The Hui Family and Lune Hing Cheong (聯興昌)
Hui Pak-chee (center next to the little girl) and family and friends welcoming her daughter Hui Pik-chu back to HK in 1962 (WKYP, 1962-6-19)
Hong Kong with its strategic location has been a preferred hub for overseas Chinese traders since the 19th century and within the business community of Nam Pak Hong, merchants were organized by the country they specialized in. The merchants specialized in trading with Vietnam, the rice bowl of Asia before the outbreak of the Vietnam War, were referred to as “Annam Guild” (安南莊) and within this group,Lune Hing Cheong controlled by the Hui family was one of its major leaders in the trading of rice, maize and beans from Indochina in HK with affiliates in Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore where it owned one of its largest feed mills.
Article and picture of the wedding of Hui Shun-cheong in 1959 (WKYP, 1959-12-4)
Lune Hing Cheong was founded in 1946 in HK by Hui Pak-chee(許柏芝) and his brother Hui Yao-thoac (許友竹, also known as HiuYeou-tchou, 1898-1965), natives of Chinghai in the Chiuchow region. In the 1950s and 1960s it was operating out of the ground floor of 13 Des Voeux Road West in HK and Hui Pak-chee was elected chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in northern Vietnam in Haiphong.
In December 1959, the Hui family was joined by marriage to the leading Chiuchow family in Thailand – the Wanglees when Hui Pak-chee’s eldest son Hui Shun-cheong (許舜昌), a graduate of Lingnan College, married Chan Hei-ha (陳希嘏), the eldest daughter of Chan Sau-yim(陳守炎, 1906-1996), the head of the historic Nam Pak Hong trading firm of Kin Tye Loong (乾泰隆) in HK founded by his great grandfather. The wedding banquet at the Chung Kwok restaurant in HK was attended by Sir Tsun-Nin Chau, Kwok Chan and Tang Shiu-kin, leading figures from the HK Chiuchow business community such as Ngan Shing-kwan, Lam Chi-fung and Ma Chak-man and prominent fellow Hui clansmen such as Hui Oi-chow, Hui Yeung-shing and Hui Pee-kook (see article). Pak-chee’ssecond daughter Hui Pik-chu (許璧珠)studied at HK Baptist College and Baylor University before graduating Columbia University with a B.A. in economics.
Left: Lune Hing Cheong manager Wan Tsang-wing at the United College in CUHK where he was received by Ma Lin, then chemistry department head and later Vice-Chancellor, in 1965 (WKYP, 1965-6-6); Right: IPO notice of Singapore Fodder in 1979 (Straits Times, 1979-6-25)
In 1962, the Hui family established Singapore Fodder Ltd (新加坡飼料廠有限公司) in Singapore to manufacture animal and poultry feed. At one point, Lune Hing Cheong owned over 35% of the firm while the rest were held directly by the children of Hui Yao-thoac.
In March 1965, Hui Yao-thoac died in HK at the age of 67 and was survived by his wife Pun Wai-ham (1900-1985) and their only son Hui Shune-ming (許舜明, 1932-2018), who attended PuiKiu and Pui Ching Middle School in HK and two daughters – Tina Hui Shun-yun (許舜雲), a biochemist and Stella Hui Shun-fong (許舜芳). Shune-mingran Lune Hing Cheong’s affiliateYow Cheong Pte Ltd (友昌有限公司) in Singaporewhile in HK, Wan Tsang-wing (温增榮) became the manager of Lune Hing Cheong.Wan sponsored the Hui Yao Thoac Gold Medal for chemistry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in memory of his former boss and was supported at Lune Hing Cheong bysub-manager Hui Yue-meng.The firm also had an affiliate in Cambodia by the name of Yow Lune S.A.R.L. which was managed by the Hui brothers’ nephewOu Kim-man and an affiliate in Kuching, Malaya by the name Choi Shing Hong. (Red Book, 1969)
In 1969, Hui Shune-mingand his brother in lawDr. Gregory Tang Wing-chan (鄧永燦, Stella’s husband), a McGill University trained agricultural chemistbuilt a modern feed mill in Singaporefor Singapore Fodder which also included a poultry breeding operation. In 1970, the firm began selling its feed to the HK market which was historically dominated by American imports and successfully captured market share, shipping 4000 tons per month to HK by the mid-1970s. In 1972, Singapore Fodder became the first feed mill in Southeast Asia to install a feed formulation computer. (NYSP, 1975-6-27)
Left: Hui Shune-ming in his later years (obituaries.sg); right: ad congratulating the opening of the Malayan Flour Mills in 1966 by Lune Hing Cheong and its affiliates in Singapore, Cambodia and Malaya (Nanyang Siang Pau, 1966-10-15)
In 1978, Singapore Fodder recorded S$2.8 million in profits on sales of S$25 million. 60% of its feed sales were to local farmers while the rest were exported to Malaysia and HK. The firm also owned a 30% stake in Sarawak Fodder in eastern Malaysia. The next year, the firm went public in Singapore through the issuance of 2.3 million new shares at $1.55 per share. (Business Times, 1979-6-25; Straits Times, 1979-6-26) Unfortunately, business was tough in the first few years after its listing and the firm’s profits dropped to $1.1 million in 1981 thanks to declining sales due to import duties and struggling breeding operations. (Straits Times, 1982-6-30) As its core business further deteriorated when the Singapore government decided to phase out pig farming, Shune-ming looked to diversify by investing in the stock market. Unfortunately, his dealings with Associated Asian Securities ran by Pan Electric director Peter Tham resulted in S$13 million in losses in 1985 and as a result, he had to pledge his 39.4% stake in the firm to Sim Lim Finance for loans. This attracted the attention of property tycoon Ng Teng-fong who launched a takeover bid through his HK-listed Sino Land for the shares mortgaged to Sim Lim in 1987 but Shune-ming managed to seek court injunction to block Ng’s takeover. (Business Times, 1987-6-20; Straits Times, 1987-10-13) In November 1990, Hui Shune-ming and Greg Tang accepted offer by Unicentral Corporation and as a result, Singapore Fodder was renamed Sun Corporation in May 1991. The firm, which shuttered its manufacturing operations, was acquired once again by the Chinese state-owned shipping COSCO in 1993.
In December 2018, Hui Shune-ming died in Singapore at the age of 86. He was predeceased by his wife Tsai Kie-ping and was survived by two sons (Michael and George) and two daughters (Evelyn and Angela). His body was flown to HK for burial. As a firm, Lune Hing Cheong Ltd in HK was incorporated in 1959 and is still a live company.
Sources (other than what’s cited above):
This article was first posted on 11th December 2020.
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- From Saigon to HK and Rice to Corduroys: the Wong family of Wong Cheong Fung, King’s Dyeing, Corona Textile, and Perfecta
- Far East Flour Mills (遠東麵粉廠)
- Kowloon Flour Mills (九龍麵粉廠)
- The Sperry Flour Company in Hong Kong
- The Hongkong Milling Company (Rennie’s Mill)
- The Hui family and China Brothers Hat Manufacturing Co. (中華兄弟製帽廠)