Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa (2019)
Dr Liu Chak-wan is an eminent entrepreneur and community leader, and Chairman of Liu’s Commerce and Industry Limited. Dr Liu has had a long, varied and very successful business career. As he puts it: “you have to make a living!”, and Dr Liu has made his living in a variety of industries, including trading, garment manufacture, bus transport, technology, and property development, and recently banking. He has made a success of each of these ventures. When asked about the secret of his success, in characteristically modest terms, Dr Liu puts it down to two main factors: the intelligence and strong support of his wife, and sheer luck!
Dr Liu Chak-wan has had a life-long interest in education going back to his father, who was head of his primary school in Sheung Shui. At the time the young Dr Liu didn't necessarily appreciate this, as being the head teacher’s son meant that he had very high standards to meet and he faced a strict regime. However, under the influence of his father, Dr Liu persevered with his education, and in 1974 he graduated with a Diploma in Arts from the Department of English Language and Literature of Hong Kong Baptist College (HKBC).
Dr Liu didn't go directly into business on leaving HKBC. In fact, he spent the first three years of his career in the Correctional Services Department in Hong Kong, working on the pre-assessment of young offenders. His wife was also a civil servant, in the Housing Department, and between them they had a good and rising income, a nice flat and a steady life. Facing the possibility of a significant promotion at the end of his first three years, Dr Liu faced a key decision: whether or not to continue his civil service career. In the end he and his wife decided to take up the adventure of a move to Macau, to take control of his father-in-law’s trading company.
This resulted in a steep learning curve for Dr Liu. Whilst half the business was in garments, the rest involved a diverse range of commodities, sourced in Asia and exported mainly to Europe. He quickly had to master the details of these unfamiliar and diverse trades. However, he applied himself and, with the support of his wife, the business prospered.
A key turning point was the decision to move beyond garment trading into manufacturing, establishing a fully-automated factory in Macau and making full use of the export quotas that existed at that time. Further diversification followed early on into bus transport, but perhaps the key move was into property development, with land prices relatively modest as Macau drifted towards the end of Portuguese rule. Success then followed success, with technology and eventually banking ventures to follow.
Looking beyond his business career, Dr Liu has a very strong sense of wanting to give back to the community in which he has been so successful, and this is reflected in his government and community service. For example, he is in his 27th year as a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, serving as a Standing Committee Member since 2003, and he is in his 20th year as a member of the Executive Council of the Macau SAR. In addition, he has served the Macau Foundation, along with a wide range of education, community development, and business and professional organisations.
When asked about the achievement of which he is most proud, Dr Liu says without hesitation that it is his work as a co-drafter of the Macau Basic Law, which he feels has laid a sound basis for the stability and continued success of the Macau SAR. With so many achievements to choose from, it is surely significant that he chooses something that can be said to contribute to the well-being of the wider community.
A key theme in Dr Liu’s community service is education. As we have seen, this goes back to his father’s early influence and it is reflected in his co-founding of the Macau University of Science and Technology, where he still serves as Chancellor. He is also Honorary Chairman of the Council of the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and a Council member of Jinan University, amongst many other activities.
Dr Liu is a staunch supporter of HKBU, his alma mater. Apart from making very generous donations to the University over the years, Dr Liu has served as an honorary member of Court since 2007. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the HKBU Foundation since 2009, and is an Honorary Trustee of the Foundation and the Supervisor General of the Supervisory Board of the HKBU Alumni Association of Macau.
In recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to the University and society at large, Dr Liu was awarded an HKBU Honorary University Fellowship in 2007 and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016. Dr Liu has also received awards and honours from the Macau SAR, the Republic of Portugal, and several provinces and cities in the People’s Republic of China.
Dr Liu personifies the HKBU caring ethos. Aside from his community service, he has a strong personal commitment to sustainable and ethical business practice. For example, he is very selective about the businesses he enters. He has dropped profitable business lines where he felt he could no longer assure quality and customer safety, and his success has come in part because of the trust he inspires. An entrepreneur with a caring and ethical heart and a keen supporter of education, Dr Liu is thoroughly deserving of the award of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa.