Ngan Shing-kwan, co-founder of the China Motor Bus Company
HF: The following article has been extracted from the Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography.
The article about Ngan Shing-kwan was written by May Holdsworth and Eva Kwok and first published in the Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography, edited by May Holdsworth and Christopher Munn. The publisher, HK University Press, has kindly granted permission for it to be posted here, but retains copyright over this material from 2012.
Thanks to SCT for proof reading the retyped article.
Ngan Shing-kwan 顏成坤, JP (1932), OBE (1955), CBE (1961) b. 1903, Chaoyang District, Guangdong Province; d. 14 April 2001, Hong Kong. Entrepreneur.
Said to have started his working life as a rickshaw puller, Ngan Shing-kwan and his brother-in-kaw Wong Yiu-nam founded the China Motor Bus Company (CMB) – the first public bus operator in Hong Kong – in 1924. Initially providing services only in Kowloon, CMB was given a government franchise in 1933 to extend its routes to Hong Kong Island, an expansion facilitated by an increase in its fleet to more than a hundred buses over the next decade. Altough many of those buses were put out of commission during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong (1941-45), CMB continued to run some services as part of a consortium formed by the order of the Japanese transportation officer: this consortium, named Hongkong Motor Transport Company, consisted of CMB, the Kowloon Motor Bus Company under Tang Shiu-kin, and several truck and taxicab companies. At the end of 1943 Ngan resigned as general manager of the Hongkong Motor Transport Company, pleading ill health, and waited out the war with his family in Macau.
CMB flourished from the end of the war to the 1970s, when the population of Hong Kong grew fourfold. Many improvemenrts in its services were initiated during this period. But several factors caused passenger numbers to decline from the mid-1980s: the emergence of competition and the breaking of its monopoly by the Mass Transit Railway’s completion of the Island Line in 1985; CMB’s failure to upgrade its vehicles; and a crippling employees’ strike for better terms, which brought services to a halt in November 1989. In the early 1990s Citybus, another transportation company, took over several profitable routes, and in 1998 CMB lost its franchise to New World First Bus. CMB has since diversified into property investment.
Ngan Shing-kwan was appointed to the Urban Council in 1946, the Legislative Council in 1951, and the Executive Council in 1959. Besides serving on a number of public welfare and educational committees, he was a director of the Chiuchow Chamber of Commerce, and was particularly associated with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals: in 1931, when the Kwong Wah Hospital, the Tung Wah Hospital and the Tung Wah Eastern Hospital were incorporated under a united board of directors, Ngan was elected its first chairman. He married Rosa Wong Yick-mui in 1927; they had two sons and a daughter.
- 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.
- China Motor Bus Company – Wikipedia
- Bus lovers scramble to take pics of final CMB service– Hong Kong Free Press
- A dynasty falters – An Economist article about the China Motor Bus Conpany
This article was first posted on 1st March 2020.
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