Synthetic Marble Pioneer Dr. Andrew Liu and his Family

York Lo: Synthetic Marble Pioneer Dr. Andrew Liu and his Family

While his father physician Dr. Liu Yan-tak and sibling jurist Benjamin Liu and politician Dorothy Liu might have a higher profile, Dr.  Andrew Tze-chiu Liu (1929-2000) left his mark in HK industries as the founder of Marble Synthetic Products, the first local manufacturer of synthetic marble in the 1970s andcontributed to the global chemical industry as an engineer for leading firms such as ICI and Du Pont.

Dr. Liu Yan-tak (廖恩, 1903-1985)

Andrew Liu, Synthetic Marble Pioneer, Image 1 York Lo

Left: Dr. Liu Yan-tak (first from the right) at the 50th board meeting of HYF in 1978. Left to righ: Alex Woo, Michael Kan, Li Pak-yiu, Lau Chan-kwok, Grace Young, Sir Tang Shiu-kin, Shum Wai-yau, Dr. Liu (KSEN, 1978-4-9); Right: Dr. Liu Yan-tak in his later years (WKYP, 1988-3-15) 

Andrew was the eldest of the six children of Dr. Liu Yan-tak and Dorothy Kwok (郭美球)- three boys and three girls whose English names were picked in the order of the alphabet (Benjamin was second and Dorothy was fourth for example).

A native of Weiyang in Guangdong province, Dr. Liu Yan-tak graduated from the College of Medicine at HKU in 1933 andfirst worked at the Public Clinic in Central. (KSDN, 1936-3-12) In 1936, he entered private medicine, first out of Wellington Street and then later moved to China Building in Central. He was electedlead director of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1940 and was also director of Po Leung Kuk. After the Japanese occupied HK, he relocated to Kweilin in Kwangsi province where he provided medical support to the Chinese side.

After the War, he returned to private practice in Hong Kong and served on the board of HK Yaumatei Ferry which was founded and managed by the family of his brother in law Lau Chan-kwok. As a close friend, private physician and fellow clansman of the family of KMT left wing leader Liao Chung-kai and his son Liao Zhengzhi who ran HK and Macau affairs for the Beijing regime after 1949. Thanks to his pro-Beijing stance and connections, he was appointed medical advisor to Bank of China and other state-owned enterprises in Hong Kong and helped organized many trips and events in HK to promote the Beijing regime.

In March 1988, Dr. Liu Yan-tak died in HK at the age of 85. His funeral was attended by many representatives of the Chinese government and his 8 pallbearers included Sir Oswald Cheung, Chen Hong (Bank of China executive and descendant of Pu Yi’s tutor Chen Pao-shen), Professor David Todd, Dr. Gerald Choa, Ma Lin (Vice Chancellor of CUHK), Lau Chan-kwok, Ng Kit-yee (brother of Wing Lung Bank founder Ng Yee-sun) and Shum Choi-sang (publisher of Wah Kiu Yat Po). (WKYP, 1988-3-15; 1988-3-18)

Dr. Andrew Liu (廖子照) and Marble Synthetic Products (萬寶雲石廠)

Andrew Liu, Synthetic Marble Pioneer, Image 2 York Lo

Article about Andrew Liu and his synthetic marble in 1972 (KSDN, 1972-1-8)

A graduate of Wah Yan College, Andrew received his B.S. in chemistry from Indiana State and M.S. from Lowell Technical Institute. In July 1961, he received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Imperial College at the University of London with his doctoral thesis “Some Novel Cyanide Dyes) and joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) as an engineer the next month. In 1962, he came back to HK with his wife Helena Chang Loo-yee (張羅儀) and their daughter for four weeks to visit relatives.  (WKYP, 1962-12-10)

Andrew later joined the American chemical giant Du Pont before returning to Hong Kong where he worked as an engineer for China Dyeing Works. (CGCC Membership Directory, 1965)In the early 1970s,  he became the managing director of Marble Synthetic Products Ltd. The firm which counted the Malay Chinese financier Chang Ming-thien of Overseas Trust Bank as chairman and Filipino Chinese financier Johnny Cheng of Hang Lung Bank as vice chairman, had a 10000 sq ft factory in Tsuen Wan which had four assembly lines. The firm’s synthetic marble bathroom sink won the New Products Award from the Chinese Manufacturers Association at the HK Products Expo in 1971. The products were shown at the showroom of the HK TDC, sanitaryware distributor Lee Yu Kee (see article), Wing On department store, Dah Chong Hong and a few other trading firms in addition to its own showroom at 31A Fuk Wing Street in Sham Shui Po. (KSDN, 1972-1-8)

In 1973, Andrew teamed up with the designer Ha Wing-kwan(夏永群) and designed a system for assembling furniture which won the Wah Kiu Yat Po Applied Materials Design Competition. (WKYP, 1974-1-28)

For whatever reason, Marble Synthetic Products did not last and dissolved in 1978. Afterwards Andrew rejoined the Du Pont group as vice president of its subsidiary Conoco and visited China in the early 1980s during which he met Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Later, he worked for Dentsply where he did research on dentures. He had over15 patents for hydrocarbon conversions, catalystremoval, fuel additives, polyurethanes, hydrocarbon polymers, dentalmold fabrication, self-lubricating interpenetrating polymer network, medical prosthesis materials and received the Distinguished Service Award at Du Pont.

Andrew died in North Carolina at the age of 70 and was survived by two children.

Andrew’s Siblings

Andrew Liu, Synthetic Marble Pioneer, Image 3 York Lo

Left: Benjamin Liu; Right: wedding notice of Dorothy Liu and her first husband in 1953 (WKYP, 1953-7-4)

In terms of Andrew’s siblings by the order of birth:

Benjamin Liu Tsz-ming (廖子明, 1931-2013) went to HKU and qualified as a barrister in the UK and HK in the late 1950s. He worked in private practice for 14 years before becoming a judge for 26 years, retiring in 1999. A justice of the Court of Appeals, he was considered for the post of Chief Justice in 1997 and he was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star after his retirement. He was the author of Hong Kong Triad Societies before and after the 1997 Change-over and How Are We Judged?

Henry C.K. Liu (廖子光, 1933-) studied architecture at Harvard and taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic UCLA and Washington University before starting his own architectural design firm.(WKYP, 1969-8-11)He was involved in many architectural and urban design projects across America over the years but in more recent years he has shifted his focus to investments and media commentaries on economics and international relations.

Dorothy Liu Yiu-chu (廖瑤珠, 1934-1997) was a well-known politician known for an outspoken and independent image. As shown in the newspaper clipping above, she initially studied at Indiana State and married Foo Shun(傅錞), the son of wealthy HK merchant Foo Kam-shing (nephew of diplomat Foo Ping-sheung) in 1953 although the marriage ended in divorce. She later returned to HK and received her B.A. from HKU in 1956 and then studied law and became a lawyer in the 1960s.She was deputy to the National People’s Congress from 1982until her death in March 1997, few months shy of the handover although her stand went from extremely pro-Beijing to critical of Beijing towards the end.

Esther King-chu Liu Taylor (廖琼珠, 1938-2002) worked in the insurance sector in the US and died in Houston of pancreatic cancer in 2002.

Florence Liu Ling-chu (廖玲珠) is an architect who received her diploma in architecture from Southend-on-Sea and married to Ernest Wong Wan-chee (黃允熾), the second son of Wong Haking, the famous industrialist behind the Halina brand of cameras.

Sources (other than those cited above):

This article was first posted on 10th September 2021.

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