Allan Zeman

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The Honourable Dr. Allan Zeman
GBM, GBS, JP
Allan Zeman, Ocean Park Hong Kong, 2009.jpg
Zeman in 2009 at Ocean Park Hong Kong
Born 1949 (age 64–65)
Regensburg, West Germany
Nationality Canadian (1949[citation needed]-2008)
Chinese (Hong Kong) (2008–present)
Alma mater LL.D. (Hon) (UWO)
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Developing Lan Kwai Fong and running Ocean Park in Hong Kong
Political party
New People's Party (Hong Kong)
Awards 2001: Justice of the Peace
2004: Gold Bauhinia Star
2011: Grand Bauhinia Medal

Allan Zeman GBM, GBS, JP (Chinese name: 盛智文; born 1949) is a Hong Kong business magnate. He was born in Germany, raised in Canada and is of Jewish descent. He is known in Hong Kong as the Father of Lan Kwai Fong (蘭桂坊之父).

Background and personal life[edit]

Allan Zeman was born in Regensburg, Germany; and was raised in Montreal, Canada, where his mother worked in a hospital. Allan Zeman's father died when he was seven[1] years old, and he started working at the age of ten. He dropped out of college, and by the age of nineteen, while working for a lingerie company, he had earned his first C$1 million.[citation needed] He made this first fortune by importing clothes from Hong Kong. As he frequently travelled to Hong Kong for work in the 1970s, he eventually moved to the territory in 1975.[2] Zeman is married and has two grown children. He speaks English, French and some Cantonese, and he is a teetotaler.[3]

Career[edit]

In 1975, Zeman founded Colby International Group to source clothing in China and export it to Canada. In late 2000, by now a much larger and diversified company, Colby was sold to Li & Fung Ltd., a major competitor.

In the early 1980s, Zeman felt that Hong Kong had no western restaurant that suited his needs, so in 1983 he opened California Restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong, a narrow street in Central. He bought the entire block in 1984 and thus launched his career as both an entertainment operator and property developer. Through Lan Kwai Fong Holdings Ltd, of which he is chairman, he drove the development of Lan Kwai Fong to be one of the most important bar and night life districts in Hong Kong. He is now said to own 65 percent of the district's properties.[2]

Meanwhile, as chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Concepts Holdings Ltd., he controls a number of restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong including California, California Coffee, China Lan Kwai Fong, Indochine, Tokio Joe, Cafe des Artistes, Tutta Luna, Jazz Club, Thai Lemongrass, BACI, BACI Pizza and Luna Di Notte.

In 2004, Zeman was invited by the then-Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, to become the chairman of Ocean Park. He managed to raise visitor numbers despite the opening of rival Hong Kong Disneyland, making the park more attractive and, remarkably, the park generated record profits.

A 2007 Forbes article,[4] refers to Zeman as "Hong Kong's Mouse Killer" because of the success that Ocean Park is having while Hong Kong Disneyland struggles.

In 2001, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace in Hong Kong, in 2004, he was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star and in 2011 he was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal.

Other business interests[edit]

Film and TV[edit]

A noted film producer, Zeman is chairman of Sweetpea Entertainment Inc. a film production company based in Los Angeles, and is also involved with After Dark Films, a movie company.

Fashion[edit]

As well as having built and sold off the successful Colby group, Zeman is also a director of Algo Group, another fashion business. In February 2007, he was named Stylemaker of the Year by Style Magazine (published by the South China Morning Post).

Property Development[edit]

Zeman is a property developer and built the Andara Resort in Phuket, Thailand.

Other[edit]

Zeman is chairman of Mesco Shipyard Ltd (shipbuilding) and DKA Ltd (public relations), and a director of Wynn Resorts.[5] He is a non-executive director of Pacific Century Premium Developments Ltd.[6][7]

Political activity[edit]

Zeman is actively pro-Government, and while that means he is often viewed as pro-Beijing, he himself says that he is "pro-Hong Kong". He is cautious about universal suffrage, suggesting that "It's not possible for it to happen overnight." He is also disappointed by the high levels of support for the democratic camp, believing that "the government is very misunderstood."[8]

He supported Regina Ip, the controversial former Secretary for Security in the 2007 Legco by-election in the Hong Kong Island constituency. However, she was defeated by Anson Chan[9]

Official positions[edit]

Zeman is prominent in government circles, sitting on various committees, boards and advisory bodies.

He is a long-standing member of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Economic and Employment Council in Hong Kong. He is a board member of the Tourism Strategy Group for the Hong Kong Tourism Commission, the Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Urban Renewal Authority.

He is also a member of the International Events Fund Steering Committee for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and of the Cultural and Heritage Commission. Also he has been appointed as a member of the Services Promotion Strategy Group, chaired by the Financial Secretary. Zeman is also on the Board of Hong Kong Arts Festival and Hong Kong Community Chest.[7]

Citizenship[edit]

Zeman has long held the right of abode in Hong Kong; this entitled him to a Hong Kong permanent identity card. In addition, in September 2008, Zeman renounced his Canadian citizenship and became a naturalised citizen of the People's Republic of China, as he said he has lived and worked in Hong Kong for 38 years and has always considered it to be his home. The Chinese citizenship, combined with his right of abode in Hong Kong, enables him to hold a Home Return Permit for entering mainland China, and a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport for international travel. He is now also eligible for taking up political office in Hong Kong.[8] Internet users encouraged him to participate in the 2012 Hong Kong Chief Executive election. However Zeman does not have this kind of interest.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
Charles Kao
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Stephen Lam
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal