T.B. Hwang and Benny Tang
York Lo: T.B. Hwang and Benny Tang
Hwang Tiong-beng (hereafter referred to as “T.B. Hwang”) was a prominent figure in the shipping and shipbuilding business in the 1960s and 1970s while Benny Tang Kar-hung, the brother of Hwang’s daughter in law was a key figure in the HK construction industry and local football circle from the 1970s to the 1990s. Both had since passed away and their enterprises had faded into history.
Hwang Tiong-beng (黃長銘, 1915-1990) and China Pacific Engineering (中太工程)
Left: T.B. Hwang (KSDN, 1968-4-1); right: wedding picture of Richard Hwang and Tang Kar-mei in 1974 (KSEN, 1974-7-8)
A native of Amoy in Fukien province, T.B. Hwang was born in 1915. In 1940, he co-founded Pacific Shipping (太平船務) in HK with fellow Fukienese merchant YC Tseng (曾雲祥). The firm leased two Panamanian vessels from a Jewish shipowner and operated routes between HK, Macau and the French controlled Kwangchow Wan before they were seized by the Japanese at the outbreak of the Pacific War in late 1941. In March 1942, 18 sailors of one of the vessels rebelled against their Japanese captors and took control of the vessel which they sailed to the KMT controlled Guangxi province. In 1955, Hwang was listed as a founding shareholder of the HK shipping firm Pan Pacific Transport Ltd (太平洋輪船) and his address was listed as 12 Osmanthus Road in Kowloon. His partners in Pan Pacific Transport were Joseph Wong and Peter Hyui (許寶驊, 1910-1990), a graduate of St. John’s University in Shanghai who was the founder of Nanyang Development & Finance Corporation (南洋企業, incorporated in 1941, dissolved in 1991) in HK and also managing director of Thai industrial paint manufacturer Trantex and a member of the Min Chiu Society of collectors in HK.
The next three companies Hwang was attached to by chronological order of incorporation were Southland Navigation & Commerce (南源航業貿易, incorporated in 1959), Haitong Steamship & Trading (incorporated in 1959, dissolved in 1974) and China Pacific Navigation (中太輪船, incorporated 1959). In 1962, China Pacific Navigation was listed as a subsidiary of Hornbeam Co Ltd (incorporated in 1957, dissolved in 1966) which was a member of the Wheelock Marden group. (Hearings, 1962) Hwang’s wife Doris Chang had jointly bought a horse with D.A. Hussey, who was the managing director of Wheelock Marden & Stewart, another connection which indicate potential links between the Hwangs and the Wheelock Marden group.
In 1963, Southland acquired the British vessel “Carlton” (7201 gross weight tons, built in 1942) and shortly sold it to the affiliated Eastland Navigation & Commerce (東源航業貿易, incorporated in 1963) which renamed the vessel “Cosmo Trader”. Sadly, “Cosmo Trader” was driven ashore in HK by a typhoon in September 1964 and broken up.
In the 1960s, T.B. Hwang’s principal companies were Eastland, Cathay Trader Steamship (國泰輪船, incorporated in 1963), China Pacific Shipyard (中太造船, incorporated as Mei Wo Enterprise in 1962, renamed as such in 1966) and China Pacific Engineering (incorporated in 1962).
In 1963, Cathay Trader Steamship (which was operating out of Takshing House in Central) acquired “Tyne Breeze” (7067 gross weight tons, originally built in 1943 as “Empire Dutchess”) from Manners’ affiliate Cambay Prince Steamship and renamed the vessel “Cathay Trader” which remained under Manners’ management (For more on Manners, see article on R. P. de la Sala). The next year however, the vessel was sold to Pacific Pearl Navigation Co Ltd which renamed it “Pearl Light” before it was renamed again as “Habib Marikar” in 1966 and was ruined during Typhoon Emma in 1967. In 1966, China Pacific Navigation through Oriental Trader Navigation S.A. acquired “San Ernesto” (4944 grt, built in 1937 as “Dunkeld”, renamed “Sydney Breeze” in 1956) from the Manners group and renamed it “Cathay Trader” before selling it to Renown Shipping Co S.A. of Panama which renamed it “Renown Trader” in 1968 before it was broken up in 1970.
By 1972, Cathay Trader Steamship which was operating out of Liu Chong Hing Bank Building was listed as manager of two vessels – “Oriental Trader” and “Kingsland Trader”. (Federal Register) “Kingsland Trader” was a 12075 grt tanker built in 1954 as “Storaas” and renamed “Saga Scout” in 1967 before becoming “Kingsland Trader” in 1969 and was broken up in Kaohsiung in 1972.
As for China Pacific Shipyard and China Pacific Engineering, China Pacific Shipyard was listed as the builder of a shelter deck container vessel for West Indies Shipping Co (Wisco) in 1975 while China Pacific Engineering launched the “Deckship Arabella” in its yard in HK in 1974, which allegedly was “the first of a new class of container ship” and “marked the resurgence of the building of ocean-going cargo vessels in Hong Kong. At 4318 dwt, it was the “largest ocean-going cargo vessel built in HK since 1966”. (The Dock and Harbour Authority, 1974)
T.B. Hwang and three other leaders of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1968. Left to right: Hwang, Lai Sze-luen, Edmond Ip, Cecil Chao (WKYP, 1968-3-23)
Outside of business, T.B. Hwang was owner of ten racehorses in HK in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1967, he joined the board of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and became principal director the next year.
In 1970, T.B. Hwang was chairman of the consortium which included Chan Yat-san (陳日新) and Ching Chun-kau that developed the Hotel Pearl Island (see article on Ching Chun-kau) on Pearl Island in Tuen Mun. The hotel was opened in February of that year in a ceremony attended by government officials including Donald Luddington who was District Commissioner for New Territories. (WKYP, 1970-2-12)
T.B. was supported in his business by his wife Doris Chang (張茜波) and their son Richard Hwang (黃樹智), who were directors of the various companies mentioned above. A native of Ng Wah (五華) in Guangdong province and daughter of a lawyer, Doris was educated in Shanghai, Nanking and Chungking and served as director of Po Leung Kuk in 1968-69. (WKYP, 1968-8-10) Richard went to St. Stephen’s in Hong Kong where he played soccer and in 1974 married Tang Kar-mei (鄧嘉美), the second daughter of Tak Son Construction chairman Tang Yiu-chuen and graduate of HK Polytechnic who worked for the family’s construction business. (WKYP, 1974-10-8)
T.B. Hwang died in 1990 and is buried in San Mateo, California. In the early 2000s, various entities associated with Hwang listed above were dissolved – Eastland Navigation in 2002, China Pacific Navigation, Southland Navigation and China Pacific Shipyard in 2003 and China Pacific Engineering in 2004.
Sources (other than those cited above):
Benny Tang Kar-hung (鄧家雄) and Tak Son Engineering (德臣工程)
Benny Tang signing a Home Ownership Scheme contract with Secretary for Housing Donald Liao (right) in 1978 (SCMP)
Benny Tang was the eldest son of Tang Yiu-chuen (鄧耀泉), a native of Sansui who was chairman of Tang Tak Son Construction (德臣建築), which was incorporated in 1971 but was already in existence as Tak Son Construction in the late 1960s (Statistical Tables Relating to Economic and Other Subjects, 1969).
The family construction business took off in the early 1970s after Benny Tang took over. In 1972, Tak Son (Builders & Engineers) Ltd was incorporated and was renamed Tak Son Engineering Co Ltd in 1976. In 1972, Tak Son completed the 24 story Kam Shek Building (金石大廈) on Shek Yam Road in Kwai Chung within 8 months which made a name for the firm in the industry. This was followed by a 14-story building for a garment manufacturer on a 30,000 sq ft site in Kwai Chung. (WKYP, 1972-11-20)
In the 1970s, Tak Son won many bids for public housing projects from the HK Housing Society including the three major contracts for Oi Man Estate (愛民邨), Lai King Estate (荔景邨) and Chai Wan Estate (柴灣邨), which had total contract value of $160 million and represented 3400 residential units and 215,580 square meters. (TKP, 1978-1-18) In 1978, Tang Tak Son Realty & Development (德臣地產發展, renamed Tak Son Realty & Development in 1986) was incorporated to engage in property development.
Tak Son also grew significantly in the 1980s and early 1990s by doing work for various private developers, most notably Cheung Kong Holdings which at one point represented half of its business. Some of the Cheung Kong projects Tak Son was involved with included Kingswood Villas (嘉湖山莊) in Tin Shui Wai, Laguna City (麗港城) in Cha Kwo Ling and Birchwood Place (寶樺台) and Robinson Heights (樂信台) in the Mid-Levels. Another major private sector clients was Lai Sun Development.
In 1993, Tak Son (China) Engineering Co Ltd was incorporated and Tak Son formed a 60/40 joint venture in Guangzhou with the Guangzhou No. 2 Construction Co as minority shareholder and cooperation period of 15 years and general license to undertake various construction contacts in the mainland. According to Tak Son director David Lai who spoke to the press, the firm was attracted by the higher margin in the mainland, which was 10% versus 3% in the HK market and also driven by tender invite for mainland contracts by some of their HK clients such as Evergo, Tian An and New World. At the time, Tak Son Engineering was considering a listing while Tang Tak Son Construction was dissolved the same year. (SCMP, 1993-8-23)
Wedding picture of Tang Kar-mei and Yau Fook-ping (WKYP, 1971-12-20)
Outside of the construction business, Benny Tang was very active in the local football scene from the 1970s to the 1990s and served on the board of the HK Football Association during that period including a stint as vice president in 1993-94. The football clubs he was involved with leading included the 517 Football Club (五一七足球會, founded by the corrupt police sergeant Lui Lok in the 1950s and named after Lui’s office at Room 517 at the White House Hotel in Wanchai), Kwong Wah Athletic Association, Eastern Sports Club and Kui Tan Sports Club (駒騰體育會). He was also a director of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals from 1991-1994.
Aside from Tang Kar-mei, Benny Tang has another younger sister Tang Kar-chai (鄧家齊) who worked for the family construction firm after studies in the UK and married Yau Fook-ping (邱福平), a firefighter who was member of the HK basketball team in 1971. (WKYP, 1971-12-20) Yau Fook-ping was a member of the Tai Po Rural Committee and Tai Po District Council both he and Benny owned racehorses.
In May 2006, Benny Tang passed away. As a firm, Tak Son Engineering was dissolved in 2004.
Sources (other than those cited above):
This article was first posted on 16th March 2020.
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