The Ngai brothers of Yuen Hing Weaving & Dyeing Works (元興織染廠) and the CMA

York Lo: The Ngai brothers of Yuen Hing Weaving & Dyeing Works (元興織染廠) and the CMA

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Left: Yuen Hing label with factory building; Right: Ngai Shiu-hung (HK Factory Survey)

Founded in 1927, Yuen Hing Weaving & Dyeing Works was one of the oldest and largest weaving & dyeing mills in Hong Kong and its proprietor – the Ngan brothers played critical roles in the history of the Chinese Manufacturers Association (CMA) as the eldest brother, Ngai Shiu-hung (倪少雄, 1901-1957) was a co-founder of the group in 1934 while the youngest brother Ngai Shiu-kit SBS OBE JP (倪少傑, 1924-2015) served as chairman of the group from 1978 to 1985 and represented CMA in the Legislative Council from 1985 to 1998 during the handover transitional period.

The Ngan brothers are natives of Po-ning (普寧) in the Chiuchow region. Their father Ngai Kwong-yung was the first to be involved in the weaving and dyeing business and was likely the founder of Yuen Hing but Ngai Shiu-hung started working for him at a young age so it is highly likely he was involved in the founding of Yuen Hing as well. Before the War, Yuen Hing’s factory in Kowloon City employed over 100 workers with daily production of 80000 yards of cloth. The annual sales were over $1 million and its “Double Tiger” and “Victory” brand of cloth was exported to Southeast Asia and South Africa. After the Sino-Japanese War erupted in 1937, Yuen Hing capitalized on the patriotic fervor of Chinese buyers and gave a number of its products patriotic names such as “Anti-Japanese War Blue”, “Leader Yellow”, “National Green” and “Heroine Red”.

After the Japanese occupied HK in 1941, the military force seized Yuen Hing’s Kowloon City factory and demolished the building as part of the Kai Tak airport extension (many sauce and preserved fruit factories in Kowloon City covered earlier in the group shared the same fate). Fortunately, the Ngai brothers were able to keep the machinery and after the War they re-opened their factory in a 10000 sqft space in To Kwa Wan with sales office in 61Bonham Strand West in the HK island side but business volume in the early post-War years were half of that of pre-war level. In addition to its own brands of fabric, the factory also dyed and ironed fabric for other manufacturers. Yuen Hing was incorporated in 1952 with HK$6 million in capital.

Aside from CMA, Ngai Shiu-hung was also involved with Lok Sin Tong, the leading charitable organization in the Kowloon City area as a permanent director. In the mid-1950s, Ngai Shiu-hung stepped aside and let his younger brothers and son took care of Yuen Hing as he suffered from high blood pressure and heart disease and needed rest. In October 1957, Ngai was still looking normal during dinner with his younger brothers Shiu-kit and Shiu-keung but died around midnight. His funeral was attended by the who’s who of the HK and Macau business community as seen in the article below including leaders such as Kwok Chan, Ngan Shing-kwan, Paul Tsui and CY Kwan, bankers such as Ho Yin and his brother Ho Tim, Liu Po-shan and Ma Kam-chan and fellow industrialists such as Haking Wong, CL Hsu, U Tat-chee, Shum Choy-wah, Alfonso J. Ben of Camelpaint and Paul Lau of Corney.

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Article about the funeral of Ngai Shiu-hung in 1957 (WKYP, 1957-10-12)

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Left: Ngai Shiu-kit; Right: Wedding notice of Ngai Chun-au in 1954 (Kung Sheung Daily News, 1954-12-7)

Ngai Shiu-hung was survived by three younger brothers – Ngai Shiu-ki (倪少琪), Ngai Shiu-keung (倪少强, 1921-1979)and Ngai Shiu-kit and three sons – Ngai Chun Au (倪震歐), Ngai Chun Ah (倪震亞) and Ngai Chun Mei (倪震美, meaning dominating Europe, Asia and America respectively) and four daughters (Sau-yee, Sau-ching, Sau-chun and Sau-yuk). His eldest son Ngai Chun-au was a director and deputy factory manager of Yuen Hing and married the eldest daughter of Cheung Koon-shing(張冠城), the proprietor of the Carlton Hotel on Taipo Road in Kowloon. Chun-au later served as chairman of the Happy Valley Athletic Association (愉園) in the 1960s and 1970s and was involved in the marketing of chrysanthemum (for tea) in HK.

A graduate of Pui Ching Middle School, Ngai Shiu-ki was involved with the CMA in the 1940s and 50s. He was also listed as the owner of a number of properties including 1 Lincoln Road in Kowloon Tong (acquired in 1952 for $140,000, transferred to Standard Chartered Trustees for HK$4.5 million and currently valued at over $320 mil), 12 Shau Chuk Yuen Road and 146 Nga Tsin Wai Road in Kowloon City which he co-owned with Cheung Chung-kan (張中畊, proprietor of Ah Hing Cheung Dyeing & Weaving Factory in Kowloon City which was founded in 1936) and Heung Chin (向前,father of the famous Heung brothers in the movie industry).

Ngai Shiu-keung was listed as living in 54 Macdonnell Rd when Yuen Hing was incorporated. Yuen Hing as a firm was dissolved in 1995. After Yuen Hing, Shiu-keung operated Wah Yet Co (華一有限公司, formed in 1969, dissolved in 1992) which distributed construction materials such as iron nails, glazed wall tiles and iron cement and Wah Keung Medicine (華強醫藥).He served as chairman of the Kowloon Chinese Chamber of Commerce (九龍華商會) and at his death in 1979 was chairman of the Happy Valley Athletic Association which his nephew Chun-au was also the chairman of and executive committee member of the pro-Beijing Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. He was survived by 3 sons and 2 daughters.

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Left: Ngai Shiu-kit (front row center) with HK business leaders such as Philip Kwok of Wing On (to his left), Vincent Lo of ShuiOn (to his right), Wong Man-kong of Chung Wah Shipbuilding (right of Lo) and banker Robin Chan (right of Lo with sunglasses) on October 1, 1984 in Tiananmen Square.

Ngai Shiu-kit graduated from Wah Yan College in HK and Lingnan University in Canton with an engineering degree in 1948. He joined Yuen Hing and began his involvement with the CMA in the early 1950s. In the 1960s, Ngai Shiu-kit became the managing director of Eurasia Engineering Corp (歐亞機器工程), an engineering firm chaired by Amoy Canning and CMA chairman Wong Tok-Sau and also included Cheung Chung-kan (mentioned above) as a director. The firm, which operated out of 15 Bonham Strand West, specialized in lifts, escalators and air conditioning units but also represented Sansei Yusoki (三精會社), a leading Japanese manufacturer of amusement rides and other entertainment-related machinery. In 1965, Ngai hosted the executives of Sansei who were in town to help install revolving stage for the famous State Restaurant & Nightclub (月宮酒樓) at the Li Po Chun Chambers.Ngai was later promoted to chairman of Eurasia and in 2000, Eurasia became Ryoden Elevators after its acquisition by the Ryoden Group (owned by Ngai’s fellow Legco councilor F.K. Hu).

In addition to Eurasia, Ngai was also chairman of Yat Fung Developments (日豐企業, formed in 1971, dissolved in 2010) and Ko Chung Estates (高中地產, incorporated in 1981, dissolved in 2003) and a longtime director of the listed Shell Electric Holdings (see article). During his tenure as CMA chairman, the current CMA building in Central was built. When the functional constituency system was created in 1985, Ngai became the first to represent the CMA on Legco and was re-elected until 1998 when he was defeated by Lui Ming-wah.

Additional Sources:

  1. Kung Sheung Daily News, 1957-10-10
  2. 大公報, 1980-03-19, 1965-4-3
  3. 華僑日報, 1979-07-09

This article was first posted on 13th July 2018.

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