Stephen CHOW Chun-kay, GBS SBS BBS JP
2012 Honorary Doctorate
A man of many talents, Dr Stephen Chow was destined to excel in his many roles, as businessman, philanthropist and proponent of Cantonese opera.
Born into a traditional Chiu Chow family - his grandfather was a self-made rice importer, who was succeeded by his father - Dr Chow’s comfortable life was cut short with his father’s passing when he was an infant. Undeterred, the young man who grew up in Kwun Tong went on to further his studies at Golden Gate University in the United States, supporting himself by working four jobs at the same time and earning himself a Bachelor of Science degree and an MBA. In 2003, Dr Chow received his PhD from The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Business and Economics.
Entrepreneurship runs in the Chow family. On his return to Hong Kong, Dr Chow started Chows Electronics Group in 1981 with only three staff. Over the next 31 years, Dr Chow’s company has weathered many crises brought about by global as well as local political and economic changes, only to emerge as a leading supplier of electronic materials with the largest market share in the ultrasonic bonding wire business in Hong Kong and the Mainland. Dr Chow would credit some of these successes to his 30-year old son, Felix, who has the same enterprising spirit characteristic of the Chow family that started three generations ago.
As a strategic thinker, Dr Chow has not limited his horizons to manufacturing. In 2006 he and his son established Nichetech, a R & D facility in his native Shantou in Guangdong Province. In 2010, Nichetech was recognized as the only “Guangdong Provincial Semiconductor and Microelectronics Material Engineering Technology R & D Center”. In the same year, Nichetech received “National High and New Technology Enterprise” recognition from the Mainland government.
While devoted to managing his business, Dr Chow displays an equal fervor for promoting Cantonese opera as a passion, with his contribution benefiting the Academy and the arts community in Hong Kong. He was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the government’s Cantonese Opera Development Fund since its establishment in 2005 until 2011, has served as a member of the Consultative Committee on the Core Arts and Cultural Facilities of the West Kowloon Cultural District and was founding Chairman of the government’s Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee. For over 18 years, Dr Chow has been a tireless advocate for the preservation and sustainable growth of Cantonese opera, which was inscribed on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009. Also in 2009, Dr Chow put forward important views on Cantonese opera facilities to be incorporated in the West Kowloon Cultural District project in his capacity as Chairman of the government’s Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, to ensure facilities are audience-friendly.
Besides being a campaigner for Cantonese opera, Dr Chow has been practicing the art form for many years under the tutelage of legendary master Lam Kar-sing, who is now friend as much as teacher. Through Dr Chow’s introduction, Dr Lam has been the Honorary Artistic Consultant of the Young Academy Cantonese Opera Troupe since its establishment in 2011, in which capacity he conducts classes for members of the troupe.
Dr Chow once said that a meaningful life comes from the fulfillment of personal values. For him, this means giving back to society through philanthropy and community work. Notable among his engagements have been: Chairman of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, the largest local charity organization; Vice President of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow Chamber of Commerce; Founding Chairman of Chinese Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), Hong Kong; Member of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Conference; Honorar y President of Shantou Overseas Friendship Association; and District Governor of Lions Clubs International, District 303, which covers Hong Kong and Macau.
In recognition of his various contributions, Dr Chow has been honoured by a number of education institutions in Hong Kong, the Mainland and the United States. Thus, he is: Honorary Fellow, Honorary Court Member and former Council Member of Lingnan University; Court Member of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; former Director of Fudan University in Shanghai; former Trustee of Golden Gate University; and founding Chairman of the Board and Supervisor of Lions College in Hong Kong.
Dr Chow has been honoured three times by the government, having been awarded with the Silver Bauhinia Star in 2008 and the Bronze Bauhinia Star in 2002, in addition to being appointed Justice of the Peace in 2004.
Dr Chow was born in Hong Kong in 1954, and is happily married with a son and three grandchildren.