Albert Cheng

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For the television executive born 1970, see Albert Cheng (executive).
Albert Cheng
Member of the Legislative Council
(Kowloon East)
In office
30 September 2004 – 30 September 2008
Preceded by Szeto Wah
Personal details
Born (1946-07-03) 3 July 1946 (age 68)
Hong Kong
Spouse(s) Irene Lo (m.1987–present)
Albert Cheng
Traditional Chinese 鄭經翰
Simplified Chinese 郑经翰

Ir. Albert Cheng Jing-han GBS P.Eng FHKIE JP (born 3 July 1946), affectionately known as "Tai-pan" to the people of Hong Kong, is a serial entrepreneur, popular talk show host, influential current affairs commentator and outspoken democratic activist. He is the founding partner of D100 Radio (Global Chinese Network Limited) , after leaving his role as Chairman of Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Ltd (香港數碼廣播有限公司), the former Wave Media Ltd, which he founded. His prowess found him hosting the aptly named talk show,'Sunday Taipan, on the Now TV and chairing the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting as legislator. As an activist, he was instrumental in mobilising mass support in opposition to the Government’s arbitrary Central and Wanchai Reclamation Project and the folly of listing of the Link REIT on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Biographical Highlights[edit]

  • 1946 Cheng was born in Hong Kong
  • 1968 Cheng emigrated to Canada
  • 1982 Cheng returned to Hong Kong and joined Sing Tao Holdings
  • 1986 Cheng founded Capital Communications Corporation Ltd
  • 1991 Capital Communications was acquired by Paramount Publishing Group, a publicly listed company in Hong Kong
  • 1994 Cheng became a host of ATV's talk show "News Tease" (龍門陣)
  • 1995 Cheng left Paramount Publishing Group and Capital Communications and began to host Commercial Radio's talk show "Teacup in a Storm
  • 1998 Cheng was ambushed by hired thugs and sustained serious injuries while on his way to work
  • 2000 Cheng established 36.com Holdings Ltd.
  • 2003 Cheng was hailed as the "chief executive before 10am" because of his outspoken criticisms of government bureaucracy, public policy failures and social injustice.
  • 2004 Cheng's contract with Commercial Radio was terminated unilaterally as the Station buckled under political pressure. He was then elected a Legislative Councillor later in the year, fighting, but ultimately failing to prevent the privatisation and listing as REIT (real estate investment trust), the retail assets of Government owned public housing estates.
  • 2008 Wave Media Limited was awarded a licence to operate a radio station. Cheng announced that he would not stand for Legco re-election.
  • 2009 Work started on Hong Kong’s first Digital Audio Broadcast service.
  • 2010 Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, of which Cheng serves as Chairman, received a Digital Opportunity Award from the World Information Technology and Services Alliance(WITSA) and the United Nation’s World Summit Award Mobile 2010: m-Inclusion & Empowerment for its innovative Mobile Link Service, a 24-hour personal emergency service for senior citizens
  • 2010 Cheng was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star GBS by HKSAR Government

Early life and Professional Career[edit]

Cheng was born in Hong Kong and his family hails from Chaozhou, Guangdong. Cheng received his education in Hong Kong. Starting as an aircraft maintenance apprentice, he subsequently qualified as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Canada. Between 1970 and 1981, Cheng worked as an aircraft engineer at CP Air. Cheng was elected Member, then Fellow of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) and chaired its Aircraft Division during 2013-14. He is currently Chairman, Senior Citizen Home Safety Association.

The Road to Fame[edit]

In 1981, Cheng left the aviation industry and became an independent market consultant. In 1983, Cheng was lured by the chairwoman of Sing Tao Holdings, Sally Aw Sian, to return to Hong Kong to spearhead the Group's advertising, marketing and business development initiatives. He left the company in 1985.

After consulting for a Sino-Canadian joint venture on the tender for a Light Rail Transit system project, Cheng established Capital Communications Corporation in 1986, publishing Capital magazine which becomes the most successful business title in Hong Kong, its annual Hong Kong Rich List being the talk of the town in the hyper mercantilist Hong Kong high society. Cheng was also instrumental in publishing the Chinese editions of publications such as Playboy and Forbes in Hong Kong.

In 1991, Capital Communications Corporation was acquired by Paramount Publishing Group, with Cheng becoming CEO, a position he held until 1994.

In 1999, Cheng took advantage of the dot-com boom to set up 36.com Holdings Ltd, which was listed on the Growth Enterprise Market in 2000. 36.com was initially an online pureplay but it later ventured into publishing the weekly Cup magazine. Cheng remains publisher emeritus of the now monthly Cup magazine.

The Making of a Tai-pan[edit]

In 1994, Cheng partnered with Raymond Wong Yuk-man and Chan Yiu-nam to co-host Asia Television (ATV) talk show "News Tease", which became widely popular. In 1995, Winnie Yu of Commercial Radio invited Cheng to host the morning phone-in programme "Teacup in a Storm". Cheng's outspoken criticisms of government bureaucracy and inefficiency, coupled with his spirited debates on matters of public interest garnered top ratings for the radio show, and approvals for Cheng as a radio host for a decade. His prowess as a radio personality and commentator led to Cheng being selected as one of the 25 most influential Hong Kongers by Time magazine in 1997. In 1998, he was selected as one of the 50 Asia's Stars by Business Week. In 2000, Cheng was named one of the 25 most influential Hong Kongers by Asiaweek and Ming Pao.

In August 1998, on his way to work, Cheng was viciously attacked by hired thugs outside the Commercial Radio premises. He suffered eight slashes to the body and the tendons of his hand were severed. He was hospitalised for two months. To date, no culprits have been brought to justice.

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, many frontline medical professionals and carers of the Hospital Authority called Cheng's talk show to voice concerns about the Authority's apathy to the epidemic outbreak. Fully appraised of the seriousness of the epidemics, Cheng confronted and grilled the responsible officials, and organised a fund-raising campaign to help purchase facial masks for the dangerously exposed frontline medical workers. Rightly hailed as the "chief executive before 10am", Cheng ordered, on his own initiative, from a Canadian manufacturer 500,000 bottles of Vitamin C tablets for distribution, as preventive measure, to primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong. Launching the widely applauded "One orange for one medical worker" campaign, Cheng successfully raised approximately HK$100 million worth of supplies and services for the worthy cause.

The Persecution[edit]

During the SARS outbreak, out of concern of the frontline medical staff, Cheng loudly condemned the ineptitude of his friend Ko Wing-man, former Director of Hospital Authority, in his talk show. His altercation with the Government raged unabated. In the summer of 2003, Cheng took a leave of absence from Commercial Radio until autumn, in a move by the Station to placate the aggrieved Government and facilitate its application for a standard 6 year license renewal.

On 1 May 2004, Cheng announced that he would have to take leave again on the grounds of political pressure and was temporarily replaced by Allen Lee Peng-fei, Leung Man-to, Tony Tsoi Tung-ho and Ivan Choy Chi-keung as co-hosts of the talk show. However, Cheng was summarily dismissed by Winnie Yu during his leave of absence. Yu and Cheng confronted each other over the issue on a number of media occasions. Commercial Radio later dismissed Tsoi and Leung as well, and suspended Choy from his duties on the programme. In October 2004, "Teacup in a Storm" was replaced by a new programme called "On a Clear Day".

For the Public Good[edit]

To ensure that his opinions and concerns for the public good will not be smothered, in August 2004, Cheng decided to run for legislative office, and joined hands with Andrew To Kwan-hang, then secretary of The Frontier and Wong Tai Sin District Council member, to contest the Legislative Council (Legco) election in Kowloon East constituency. The swift approval of his application to relinquish his Canadian nationality by the Canadian Government allowed Cheng to run and win a seat with more than 73,000 votes, the best results amongst all the candidates. In 2008, he announced that he would not stand for re-election.

During his term as a lawmaker, Cheng was a member of Legco’s 2 standing committees, Public Accounts and Member’s Interests. He also chaired the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting. Considered a pan-democrat in the legislature, he had his differences from the pro-democracy camp over the 2005 constitutional reform and the nomination of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as Chief Executive.

Taking a Stand[edit]

In December 2004, the Government’s Housing Department bypassed the legislature and injected into the Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link REIT) the commercial properties of public housing estates, including 150 public shopping malls and 80,000 car parking spaces, in preparation of an initial public offering and listing of the Link REIT on the stock exchange on 16 December. Cheng opposed the listing on the grounds that the public assets were purposedly undervalued and sold to the Link REIT below market prices. He whole heartedly supported the attempt of a public housing estate resident, Lo Siu-lan, to prevent the Link REIT from being listed on the stock exchange by initiating a judicial review in the High Court on 8 December, on the grounds of breaches of the Housing Ordinance by the Housing Department. The favourable High Court ruling was overturned by the Court of Final Appeal however, and the Link REIT was officially listed in 2005.

Cheng's opposition to the listing of the Link REIT was severely criticised by those looking to make a quick profit. In 2007, however, with the increasing evidence of mismanagement, high handedness and capriciousness of the Link REIT, public opinion begins to sway in support of Cheng's position.

The Rise of D100[edit]

In 2011 Cheng launched Digital Broadcasting Corporation. In summer 2012, Cheng was forced out of the company as a result of boardroom feuds and political interference. He, in turn, founded Global Chinese Network Limited (D100), a rival, multi-platform digital broadcasting service offering non-commercialised, subscription based programmes that aims to educate, enlighten and empower the Cantonese speaking public in all corners of the world.

Family life[edit]

In 1987, Cheng married Irene Lo Kam-seung, Miss Hong Kong 1981; shortly after their marriage, she gave birth to three sons.

Public Service[edit]

In Canada in the 1970s, Cheng was active in movements for minority equal rights. After returning to Hong Kong, he founded the Chinese Canadian Association of Hong Kong in 1987. He was also the chairman and a board member of the Society of Hong Kong Publishers, and the chairman of the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1982. In 1996, he founded the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, of which he remains a trustee as well as Chairman. The association provides the Personal Emergency Link Service for the elderly, and has been recognised the world over as a pioneer of and role model for well managed, self financed social enterprises.

External links[edit]

Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Szeto Wah
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Kowloon East
2004–2008
Served alongside: Fred Li, Chan Yuen Han, Chan Kam-lam, Alan Leong
Lost seat to Kowloon West
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Mak Chai-kwong
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star
Succeeded by
Eva Cheng
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star