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|Member of the Legislative Council
30 September 2004 – 30 September 2008
|Preceded by||Szeto Wah|
|Succeeded by||seat abolished|
3 July 1946 |
|Spouse(s)||Irene Lo (m. 1987)|
Albert J. Cheng was born in Hong Kong on 3 July 1946, a Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, past Chairman and present Director of the Aircraft Division.
Mr. Cheng landed in Canada in 1969 to work initially as an aircraft engineer. He became a Canadian citizen four years later.
A founding member and former director of the Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre, Mr. Cheng was seconded from the former Canadian Pacific Air to coordinate the fund-raising initiative to build the Chinese Cultural Centre, which stands as the largest Chinese community amenity in North America.
Mr. Cheng is the founder and founding president of the Chinese Canadian Association in Hong Kong, which later established the Canadian International School of Hong Kong. The school, which offers the Canadian curriculum, opened its door to 81 students in 1991, educating more than 1,800 students of over 40 nationalities from Pre-reception to Grade 12. It has now been expanded into Mainland China. The Canadian International School of Beijing was founded in 2005 and has students from over 70 countries.
After Commercial Radio had dismissed him under political pressure, he gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2004 in order to comply with local election requirements for direct elections to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Despite his absence from Canada, Mr. Cheng has doubled up for the past 20 years as a commentator for overseas Chinese voice (AM 1470 CJVB /AM 1320 CHMB), a multicultural radio station in Vancouver. His commentaries are syndicated across overseas Chinese-speaking communities in North America and Australia.
In 1986, he launched Capital Communications Corporation to publish the Chinese editions of international titles, such as the Capital, Playboy and Forbes magazines, Chinese edition. The company was merged with Paramount Publishing Group in 1991 (a public listed company) to become the largest publishing and printing house in the region.
His latest business interest is another publicly-listed company in Hong Kong, Digital Domain, which is behind the stunning visual effects of some 250 motion pictures, including blockbusters such as Titanic, the Transformer series, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Iron Man 3 and Furious 7. It specializes in producing virtual reality (VR) movie sets. Its innovative products are also adopted in computer games, city planning and interior design which employed a few hundreds of employees in Vancouver.
Mr. Cheng was appointed as consultant for a wide spectrum of key institutions in Hong Kong, including the Land Development Council, Mass Transit Railway Corporation, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Trade Development Council, PCCW, Futures and Security Commission and Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
He was a member of the Securities & Futures Commission's Public Shareholders Group. Mr. Cheng also led the Hong Kong Expo' 97 Initiative Committee in 1988.
Democracy and Social Justice
In May 1989, over a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to rally for the pro-democracy student movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Democratic Patriotic Movements of China was established during the massive protests. Mr. Cheng is a co-founder of this multi-sectorial umbrella civil body to back the Chinese students' demand for democracy and a clean government.
The peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square ended in a bloody military crackdown, which shook Hong Kong and the world. Mr. Cheng then went on to form the Right of Abode Delegation, or ROAD, with Hong Kong leading businessmen to press London for full British passports for Hong Kong people as a political insurance policy. The campaign resulted in right of abode in Britain for some 50,000 Hong Kong people. The move helped boost confidence in Hong Kong's future.
As an activist, he was instrumental in mobilizing mass opposition in 2002 to the Hong Kong Government's Central and Wan Chai Reclamation Project, which was regarded as environmental-unfriendly and a threat to Hong Kong's renown Victoria Harbor. He was behind a judicial review that resulted in stopping the reclamation in Central.
Mr. Cheng was opposed to the privatization of the government's shopping malls and car parks in its public housing estates. He was concerned that the ill-considered move would undermine the interests of the low-income public housing tenants, especially the elderly ones. He strived in vain to stop the related listing of the Link REIT on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2005. Now a decade later, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR Government, Leung Chun-ying, has proven Mr. Cheng right by denouncing Link REIT as failing to fulfill its social responsibilities.
He was a vocal force in the Legislative Council. He tackled vital issues such as the opening up of the public airwaves, imposing tighter tobacco control, introducing food labelling, and regulating against unscrupulous practices in the sales of residential flats.
Mr. Cheng was appointed by the Chief Executive of the HKSAR for four years to serve on the Independent Police Complaints Council, which is tasked with monitoring the review by the Complaints Against Police Office of complaints against members of the Police Force. During his tenure, Mr. Cheng served as the Chairman of the Publicity Committee.
He has been cherished as a people's hero in mobilizing civil efforts in the fight against the SARS epidemics in 2003. He had single-handedly raised some HK$100 million in the social movement against SARS.
Freedom of speech
In 1994, Mr. Cheng co-hosted Asia Television's ground-breaking political talk show "News Tease," which set the trend of current affairs commentary programmes in the local electronic media. He was under pressure to leave the business sector because of his candid political remarks. Apart from ATV, he also hosted current affairs talk shows on Cable TV and Now TV.
A year later, he left Paramount Publishing Group and Capital Communications to become a full-time host of Commercial Radio's breakfast talk-back show "Teacup in a Storm,” which emerged swiftly as the most popular programme in town. He was branded the "Chief Executive before 10 am" because of his outspoken criticisms of government bureaucracy, public policy failures and social injustice. He spoke for the social under dogs and pressed the authorities into action on matters of public concern. In 1998, he was ambushed by hired thugs and sustained serious injuries outside the station on his way to work. Premier Glen Clark of British Columbia visited him in the hospital during his official visit to Hong Kong. The same year, Premier Clark introduced him to the BC assembly, where he was recognized. For ten years (1995-2004), he had ruled the airwaves to take on vested interests and bureaucracies.
Despite his vast popularity, Mr. Cheng's contract with Commercial Radio was terminated abruptly and unilaterally in 2004 as the station buckled under political pressure in the run-up to the renewal of its broadcasting license. There was writing in the wall that the authorities were seeking to restrain freedom of speech in the territory.
Mr. Cheng then ran for a place in the legislature. He won a seat in the Legislative Council and continued to champion freedom of speech and other civil liberties in his hat as a directly-elected legislator. He chaired the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting of the law-making body and promoted an "open sky" policy for the electronic media.
In 2008, Mr. Cheng announced that he would not seek re-election to Legco to avoid possible conflict of interests in his efforts to apply for a license to operate a radio station. His Wave Media was awarded a license in 2009 to prepare for Hong Kong’s first Digital Audio Broadcast service, under the banner of Digital Broadcasting Corporation (DBC).
He ran into a major argument with other shareholders as he insisted on an independent editorial policy that is critical of government failings. He founded D100 Radio, an online multi-media operation, after leaving his role as DBC Chairman. D100 is now reckoned as a legendary social enterprise and Chinese platform on the Internet.
The electronic and new media aside, Mr. Cheng is also a veteran contributor to the news publications. He has been penning regular English and Chinese columns for the reputable South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Economic Journal for over 20 years.
Newspaper columns and publishing
Mr. Cheng is a prolific writer, whose many columnists have often set and define the social agenda in Hong Kong.
He has been a columnist for the Ming Pao Weekly, Hong Kong Economic Journal and South China Morning Post since 1999. He has written from time to time to promote Canadian values and culture.
Mr. Cheng was a board member of the Hong Kong Audit Bureau of Circulation (HKABC). He also served as board member, treasurer, chairman of the Society of Hong Kong Publishers from 1988 to 1990. He has been served as a trustee of the Foundation of Businesses in Support of the Arts since 1990.
Charity and community service
Mr. Cheng is a voting member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has been ranked sixth in the World Charity Index 2015 for its charitable contributions, which reached a record HK$3.87 billion in 2014-15, supporting 189 charitable and community projects. The Club is the first Asian charity donor to be listed in the world’s top 10.
He also sat on another major charity in Hong Kong, the Community Chest. He was a member of the Public Relations Committee and Corporate & Employee Contribution Programme Organizing Committee of the Community Chest, which is a statutory body functioning as an umbrella organization to provide grants to a wide range of community projects.
From 2003 to 2004, Mr. Cheng served as a member of the Securities & Futures Commission Public Shareholders Group to advise on issues relating to safeguarding shareholders' rights and interests.
Mr. Cheng was chairman of the second Hong Kong Film Awards Organizing Committee in 1984. He was a member of the Hong Kong Film Development Council from 2011 to 2013 to advice the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development on relevant policies and activities, including manpower training, Mainland and overseas promotion, and support for the film industry.
Mr. Cheng has applied his wide spectrum of social knowledge and practical experiences to counsel academic institutions and university student bodies.
He acts as Asia adviser to the Provost and responsible for establishing the Greater China Scholarship of the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic research institute founded in 1842 in Indiana, USA. He was on the board of Hong Kong Shue Yan University's academic advisory board and curriculum vetting committee.
He was a governor and honorary development director of the English Schools Foundation (ESF), the biggest international educational foundation in Asia which runs 22 educational institutions mostly international schools in Hong Kong.
Mr. Cheng was also a vetting committee member for the digital media courses of the Vocational Training Council, the largest vocational and professional education and training provider serving 250,000 students a year in Hong Kong.
He was honorary vice-president of the Economic & Finance Society of the University of Hong Kong, and honorary advisor of the Society of Business Administration of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
|Legislative Council of Hong Kong|
|Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Kowloon East
Served alongside: Fred Li, Chan Yuen Han, Chan Kam-lam, Alan Leong
|Lost seat to Kowloon West|
|Order of precedence|
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star
|Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star
Recipients of the Gold Bauhinia Star