Yau Luen Investment Co (友聯置業) and its Directors Henry Hsu and Lui Tak-wah

York Lo: Yau Luen Investment Co (友聯置業) and its Directors Henry Hsu and Lui Tak-wah

Incorporated in 1960 and dissolved in 1977, Yau Luen Investment was a property developer in the 1960s which built at least 5 buildings in HK and Kowloon. Although the firm, which operated out of Room 1011 and later Room 1115 in Central Building in Central was relatively low profile, its directors were developers of two landmarks – its managing director sports figure Henry H. Hsu, being the founder of Hotel Fortuna on Nathan Road and Lui Tak-wah being the founder of Shatin Floating Restaurant.

Yau Luen Investment

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Left: Ad for Yau Luen Investment in 1964 promoting Mirror Marina, Yau Wing Apartments and Yau Wo Apartments (WKYP, 1964-9-22); Right: sketch of Yau Luen Apartments in 1961 (WKYP, 1961-5-24)

In 1961, Yau Luen developed the 12-story Yau Luen Apartments (友聯大樓) at 70A-70D Tai Po Road in Kowloon with flats starting at few hundred dollars per square feet. (WKYP, 1961-5-24) In 1962, the firm developed the 16-story Yau Wo Apartments (友和大樓) at 132-136 Fa Yuen Street in Mongkok with 4 units each on each floor. (WKYP, 1962-12-2) This was followed by the 10-story Yau Wing Apartments (友榮大廈) at 439-443 Shanghai Street also in Mongkok in 1963 (WKYP, 1963-7-7)

In 1964, Yau Luen completed the 9-story Mirror Marina (鑑波樓) at 47 Conduit Road in Mid-Levels with three flats on each floor and flats starting at HK$130,000 each (one flat is currently listed for HK$39 million, represent a 300-times return over half a century). In mid-June 1972, the rain disaster resulted in major landslide in the Mid-Levels and Mirror Marina was one of the buildings ordered to evacuate by the government and all 27 units moved out. In November, the government gave the clearance for tenants to move back but even five days later no one had returned.  (KSDN, 1972-11-14)

Aside from Yau Luen, Henry Hsu was also managing director of Burlington Investment (華敦置業, incorporated in 1962, dissolved in 1993) and Walton Investment (華大置業, incorporated in 1962 and dissolved in 1970) in the 1960s. Burlington was likely involved in the development of Burlington House (華敦大廈) at 90-94 Nathan Road, which commenced construction in 1962. Aside from Henry Hsu, Maxim’s  founder Wu Shun-tak (see the author’s entry in the Dictionary of HK Biography), Fong Hin-yeung of Lee On Realty (see article) and Akai radio distributor and Lingnan graduateLai Yiu-kau (黎耀球) were attached to the project at the time with Su Gin-djih as architect and foundation work done by Gammon Construction. The shopping mall is equipped with Carrier air conditioner and the building with Otis elevators with duplex on the top two floors, two blocks with four units on each block and the rental income of two units were planned to cover elevator maintenance expenses. (WKYP, 1962-3-26) By early 1964, the Burlington Mansion, which by then as shown in above article was promoted as a Yau Luen project, was completed and its 9600 sq ft basement was leased to the Latin House Nightclub.

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Article and sketch of Burlington Mansion in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-2-28)

Henry Hsu Heng (徐亨,1912-2009)and Hotel Fortuna (富都大酒店)

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Left: article and picture of Henry Hsu in 1970; right: Henry Hsu as a KMT naval commanderin 1945

A native of Hua County in Guangdong, Henry Hsu was the son of Hsu Kom-shu (徐甘澍) and Wong Yuk-ying (黃玉英), two Western-trained doctors in Canton who ran a hospital and nephew of Hsu Kom-tong (徐甘棠), a mathematician and professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Canton. Over six feet tall, Hsu was versatile athlete in his youth and represented China in the Far East Games in 1930 and 1934 playing volleyball and football respectively.  In 1938, he married Amy Yu (余素馨, 1914-2003), a HK native and volleyball champion, at the St Paul’s Church in HK followed by a banquet at the Luk Kwok Hotel. (WTYP, 1938-4-23) After graduation from Whampoa Naval Academy in 1932 and Chinan University in Shanghai in 1936, he joined the ROC Navy where he rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. During the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941, he served as aide de camp to Admiral Chan Chak and led a dramatic breakout in five small torpedo boats and rescued 68 British and Chinese military personnel from the Japanese occupation and for this feat he was awarded the OBE in 1942. By the end of the War, he was commander of the Chinese Navy ship Yung Ning.

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Left: Henry Hsu on behalf of Henry International presenting the plane tickets to the US to Miss Hong Kong Pong Pik-kwong to participate in the Miss World beauty pageant in Miami (WKYP, 1962-6-29); Right: Henry Hsu and his wife Amy, son David and two daughters in 1962

In 1946, Hsu left the Navy (although he technically did not retire from it until 1981) and joined the state-owned airline CATC and was responsible for relocating its 2000 staff and airplanes from Lunghwa Airport in Shanghai to Baiyun Airport in Canton in 1949.After CATC disbanded, he and 7 colleagues pulled together US$5000 and started Foshing Airlines in Taipei with Hsu serving as branch manager in HK. In Hong Kong, Hsu tried his hands on trading, exporting enamelware to Africa but soon leveraged his airline industry connections to venture into the travel agency business by establishingHenry International Ltd (國際公司). One of International’s core businesses at the time was discount plane tickets for students going to the US and Canada (which in some cases involved chartering flights to Okinawa for connection)and in the fall of 1960, the firm ran a special from HK to LA or San Francisco for US$395, which was 20% cheaper than typical flights at the time. (WKYP, 1960-8-7)

Henry International also had a tour company affiliate – Fortuna Travel Service (幸運旅行社, incorporated in 1964, dissolved in 2001). In 1964, Fortuna Travel combined Hsu’s passion for sports with tourism by organizing a tour to the Tokyo Olympics which was limited to 10 participants and costing HK$4500 each ($500 was cost of admission tickets and rest to cover 17 days of travel expenses in Japan) and opportunity to see decathlete Yang Chuan-kwang compete was highlighted. (WKYP, 1964-8-15) With his profits from the travel agency business, Hsu establishedInternational Finance Corporation (國際銀業有限公司) in 1954 and Yau Luen Investment in 1960 to engage in real estate development.

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Left: Hotel Fortuna; Right: front page ad for Hotel Fortuna at its opening in 1964 (KSDN, 1964-4-23)

In April 1964, Hsu opened Hotel Fortuna at 351-361 Nathan Road in Kowloon on land owned by Wing On Investment. The 14 floors, 200 rooms (200 sq ft each) hotel was built at the cost of HK$5 million (FEER, 1963) andthe board of Hotel Fortuna at launch comprised of Henry Hsu as chairman and managing director, his wife Amy, Poon Wing-kai of Hing Wah Battery Factory (see article), K.P. Zee (徐鏡波) of Seven-Up, Wong Kwok-leung (黃國樑), architect Su Gin-djih (徐敬直,1906-1983) and his partner Wu Chi-koei (吳繼軌, they designed the building for Pao Hsing Cotton Mill, see article), H.K. Shea (佘鴻鈞) and Filipino Chinese businessman and basketball team sponsor S.C. Chua (蔡實祥). Lambert Kwok, the chairman of Wing On, was guest of honor at the opening ceremony and Wing On operated a branch of its department store on the first few floors of the building. (KSDN, 1964-4-23) Hsu was assisted in the management of the hotel by David Yip, who also worked for his travel agency.

In October 1966, Hsu opened Korea House Restaurant and Nightclub (梨花園酒樓夜總會) at the Tung Ying Building in Tsim Sha Tsui in partnership with Korean entrepreneur Madam Lee (李金濬載) with himself as chairman and Madam Lee as managing director. The opening ceremony was attended by over 1000 guests with Sir S.N. Chau as guest of honor. The restaurant touted its 20 Korean waitresses and its ingredients being imported by air from Korea. As a firm, Korea House Ltd was incorporated in 1966 and dissolved in 1995.

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Article and picture of the opening of Korea House in 1966. Right to left: Mrs. Lee, Sir S.N. Chau, Henry Hsu, Mrs. Chau (WKYP, 1966-10-29)

By the early 1970s, the various businesses of Henry Hsu had over 700 employees and they went on a group tour of Cheung Chau in the summer of 1970. (WKYP, 1970-7-10).

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Left: front page ad for the opening of the Fortuna Court Hotel in 1971; Right: opening ceremony of Fortuna Court Hotel in 1971, right to left: Henry Hsu, Poon Wing-kai, Mrs. Hsu, K.P. Zee (WKYP, 1971-3-28)

In March 1971, Fortuna opened the 8-story Fortuna Court Hotel at 3 Chi-wo Street, which brought the total number of rooms between the two hotels to 300 and added two restaurants – a Cantonese restaurant and a Japanese restaurant. The opening ceremony was attended by over 1000 guests.  (WKYP, 1971-3-28) For the fiscal year ending March 1971, Hotel Fortuna earned $1.2 million. Its board at the time comprised largely with the same members at launch plus Eddie Chan of Tai Cheung Properties (see article), Hsu’s son David and Chan Hing. (WKYP, 1971-7-3)

In June 1975, Henry Hsu and Hotel Fortuna were drag into a cross-straits political incident when T.S. Chang (張鐵石), a KMT colonel who was released from the mainland by the Communists after 26 years of incarceration hung himself while staying at Hotel Fortuna in HK and awaiting entry visa to Taiwan. In response, the pro-Beijing media drummed up a conspiracy theory and Wen Qiang, a former KMT intelligence officer published an article in the mainland which claimed that Henry Hsu was a KMT spy since the 1930s. (TKP, 1975-6-11)

In 1981, Henry Hsu sold Hotel Fortuna in HK to the Wing On group, which raised HK$394 million through the issuance of new shares to finance the re-development of the hotel (WKYP, 1981-9-4) Afterwards, Hsu relocated in 1982 to Taipei where he built Fortuna Hotel, a 14-story, 304 room hotel which opened in 1983 in Chung Shan North Road. In 1992, the Hsu familythrough Universal Fortuna Investment acquired the 1200 room Hilton Los Angeles Airport, the second largest hotel in Los Angeles for US$45 million. The family spent US$25 million to renovate the hotel but had high profile fights in the 2000s with its 600 employees.

Henry and Amy Hsu has one son and two daughters, all of whom joined the family business. Their son David Hsu Kin (徐堅) graduated with degrees in hotel administration from Brigham Young and Cornell and marriedfashion model and designer Judy Mann Lai-yin in 1974. He and his younger sister Christine Hsu (徐珊) manages the hotels in Taipei and Los Angeles.

Outside of business, Henry Hsu was best known for his involvement with the Olympics movement. He was a member of International Olympics Committee from 1970 to 1988 and led the ROC Olympic Committee. He served in the Legislative Yuan from 1972 to 1987. In 2008, Henry Hsu participated in the Beijing Olympics and he died in February 2009 in Taipei at the age of 96.

Sources (other than what’s cited above):

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2007-jul-06-me-hotel6-story.html

https://iweb.sa.gov.tw/UD/1511797146075015900.pdf

http://www.hongkongescape.org/Henry.htm

Lui Tak-wah (呂德華) and Shatin Floating Restaurant (沙田畫舫)

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Lui Tak-wah (center) with his son in law Auyeung Kwok-kuen (right) and Wong Wing-cheung, manager of Japan Airlines before boarding a plane for his round the world trip in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-9-22)

Compared to Henry Hsu, fellow Yau Luen director Lui Tak-wah was much lower key although he was chairman of the Shatin Floating Restaurant when it opened in early 1963.Other directors of the restaurant at launch were Deacon Chiu (see article on Far East Flour Mill), Chow Kwan-sing (周坤成, Chiu’s co-founder of Yan Chai Hospital in Tsuen Wan), Ho Heung-min (何享綿, proprietor of Ching Cheung Dyeing & Weaving Works), Lui Man-chun (呂文俊) and Fung Fook-wai (馮福槐). Other investors included Lee Man-tat of Lee Kum Kee and his friend Hui Hung, a right-hand man of Ho Tim of Hang Seng Bank. The opening ceremony had over 1000 guests including Sir Kenneth Fung and many business leaders covered earlier such as Chan Shun of Crocodile Shirt, T.F. Cheung of The Garden Co, Chan Yat-san of Kai Tak Amusement (see article on Ching Chun-kau) and Ho Chi-wong of Chun Hing. The restaurant immediately became a landmark in Shatin and popular with tourists and locals alike.

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Left: Shatin Floating Restaurant; Right: article about the opening of the Shatin Floating Restaurant in 1963 (WKYP, 1963-1-20)

In September 1964, Lui and his son in law Auyeung Kwok-kuen (歐陽國權) went on a round-the-world trip (KSDN, 1964-9-23). Outside of Yau Luen and the Shatin Floating Restaurant, Heshan native Lui (also known as Lu Hoa) was also the owner of Kwong Tai Hong (廣大行), a distributor of seafood product founded in the 1950s best known for representing the famous Calmex brand of Mexican abalone (車輪鮑) in HK since the 1960s. Kwong Tai Hong was re-organized as Kwong Tai Hong Sealand Products in 1983 and launched its own brand of abalone “No. 1 Abalone” (第一鮑) in partnership with abalone farm in Australia.The firm is currently managed by Nelson Lui (呂榮駒), who has served as the president of the HK Hok Shan Association.

By the early 1970s, Fung Fook-wai was listed as the responsible person for the Shatin Floating Restaurant (HK Yearbook, 1973) In 1973, the original founders of the restaurant sold it to Stanley Ho’s Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises (香港仔飲食企業), which opened the Jumbo Floating Restaurant (now Jumbo Kingdom) in Aberdeen in 1976.By the early 1980s, the rapid urban development in Shatin had forced the Floating Restaurant to move several times and each move cost over HK$500,000 as there were eight chains which needed to be detached and re-attached not to mention all electricity and water supply and barges that were required to pull the restaurant. The decorations of the restaurant had also aged over two decades, so the owner explored the possibility of moving the restaurant to Guangzhoubefore closing it down for good in 1984. (KSDN, 1984-6-11) The concept of Shatin Floating Restaurant was revived by the Treasure Restaurant Group (to be covered) in 1989. As a firm, Shatin Floating Restaurant Ltd was incorporated in 1964 and renamed Jumbo Catering Management in 2003.

This article was first posted on 5th February 2021.

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