José Pedro Braga – J.P. Braga & Co, Hong Kong Engineering and Construction Company
The Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography has an article about José Pedro Braga b.3rd August 1871, Hong Kong; d.12th February 1944, Macau written by Gavin Ure.
“José Pedro Braga’s father, Vicente Emilio Braga left Hong Kong to work in Japan shortly after José Pedro’s birth but never returned. José Pedro Braga was brought up in a household of his maternal grandfather, Delfino Noronha, the Government Printer. [see linked article below].
He was educated at St Joseph’s College, Hong Kong and at the Albert Memorial College, Calcutta, where in 1889 he was Gold Medallist. At his mother’s request he returned to Hong Kong to help run the family printing business after two of his brothers died. This prevented him studying for the Bar, which remained an unfulfilled lifelong ambition. He continued with the printing firm until his grandfather’s death in 1900.
Braga was a journalist. From 1902 to 1911 he was managing editor of the Hongkong Daily Telegraph and from 1906 to 1931 he was Reuter’s Hong Kong correspondent. He returned to printing in 1910 when he set up his own firm J.P. Braga & Co. In the 1930s he became managing director of the Hong Kong Engineering and Construction Company, which undertook a major land development project in Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, financed by Sir Elly Kadoorie. Braga Circuit there is named after him.
Braga devoted much of his energies to public service in both Macau and Hong Kong. He was appointed to the Sanitary Board in Hong Kong in 1927 and in 1929 became the first Portuguese member of the Legislative Council. He was reappointed in 1933 and retired from the Council in 1937. He often spoke at length in Council, particularly on matters concerning Kowloon. He took an interest in the problems of New Territories farmers and spoke on behalf of junior civil servants and rickshaw drivers. He was the only member against a bill to relax the law on divorce, and, with Lo Man Kam in 1936, he urged unsuccessfully an end to government censorship, which had been in force since 1925.
Shortly after the Japanese invasion Braga moved to Macau. He spent his remaining years on a book which was published after his death as The Portuguese in Hongkong and China.
He was married to Olive Pauline Pollard, a native of Launceston, Tasmania, in 1895. José Maria (Jack) Braga, their second child and the eldest of their nine sons, was born in Hong Kong on 22 May 1897 and died in San Francisco on 27 April 1988. Jack was variously a businessman, teacher, journalist and writer. He was also a prolific collector of material on the history of the Portuguese in Asia, which is now housed in the National Library of Australia.”
This article was first posted on 15th June 2016.
Source: Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography, ed M Holdsworth & C Munn, HKU Press, 2012. This wonderful book collects in one volume more than 500 specially commissioned entries on men and women from Hong Kong history.
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