Fook Man Chan finds his sense of belonging in Macau

Monday, August 20, 2007
Issue 81, Page 3
Word count: 982
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

With more than half of his life living and working in different places, 37-year-old Macau-born Fook Man Chan says there is no other place that he would call ‘home’.

Born in 1970 to a Chinese couple, Fook Man was only 10 years old when he moved to Hong Kong with his father because of the change of work base.

He was being sent to Canada for college after spending five years in Hong Kong.

And after another five years, Fook Man graduated with a Diploma of Technology in Finance at a Canadian polytechnic institute.

“I was studying computer before I shifted to finance and investment as it was one of the most demanding jobs at that time. And I could easily get a job as a polytechnic institute graduate than going to university,” he told the Macau Daily Times yesterday.

Fook Man did not move back to Hong Kong until 1996. However, he has never stopped returning to Macau to visit his parents since 1980.

“I come back to Macau whenever I have holidays. I insist on spending every Chinese New Year in Macau with my family and relatives.”

Although Fook Man had only spent the first 10 years of his life in Macau, he said his root had already been planted deep in his birth place – and would never change.

“You developed your language, habit and living style during your childhood. The first 10 years shape the rest of your life. After those 10 years, no matter how long you stay somewhere else, it is just meaningless.”

During his time in Hong Kong, Fook Man said he could fit very well into the fact-paced living, except for the challenge of getting along with the classmates.

“I went to a catholic girls’ school in Macau and all of the students used to be well protected and looked after by the nuns. We were studying in a very caring environment and everyone was happy and naïve,” Fook Man recalled.

“The Hong Kong school kids and I were raised in two completely different cultures. They tend to be more wilful and disobedient – they like fighting.

“Another difficulty I had was trying to catch up with the higher English level in Hong Kong. We were taught very little English in Macau.”

Fook Man opened the first karaoke restaurant in New Zealand in 2000 and stayed there in the following three years.

In 2002 when he returned from New Zealand, he became a member of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Hong Kong after being inspired by his friend’s charity work.

JCI is a worldwide federation for young leaders and entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 40.

It aims to provide training and encourage young people to engage in the study and free discussion on all aspects of commercial, industrial, economic and civic issues. It also aims to stimulate their efforts for the development of themselves as individuals and in the community in which they live.

This year, Fook Man has been elected as the President of the Island Junior Chamber – one of the 18 branches under the JCI Hong Kong.

After living outside Macau all these years, Fook Man told the Macau Daily Times that the former Portuguese colony had now become materialistic.

“The social trait has changed and people now have to work much harder in order to secure their post-retirement life.

“And the rapid social development has also led to inflation and higher living standards. Thus people must make a lot of money for them to survive here,” he said.

Despite all these changes and massive development in Macau, the dedicated conservationist said there was not much Macau could do over environmental issues.

“The good thing is Macau doesn’t have industrial emissions. In contrast, Macau emphasises tourism in which they do a lot of work beautifying the environment and preserving the world heritage sites,” he said.

“The only concern will be the over-development of land. The ugliest place in Macau is Nape where abundant high-rise commercial and residential blocks have been built.”

Fook Man recalled the enjoyment he had when he and his friends sailed around Australia’s Hamilton Island and beaches for a week.

He said the experience inspired him about how important it was for people to try to preserve nature.

For example, he refuses to eat shark fin.

“Eating shark fin is a long tradition in China. Imagine, if every single person in China eats only one bowl of shark fin per year, sharks could easily become extinct in just 10 years.”

Fook Man also runs a factory in the mainland where he produces environmental wrapping papers for the Hong Kong market.

“We have to have practical action in order to achieve our goal. Every business I do, it must not produce emissions or water pollution during the entire production and in the final stage of disposal,” he said.

The 37-year-old said environmental work could be carried out more effectively in a high density but well-planned city rather than in a low density city where people were scattered around.

“When people are condensed into a small place, you only need a light to bright them up; but when the land is huge, every single person has to have their own set of light,” he explained.

“The more luxurious a country is, the more environmental destruction it will create.”

Fook Man is a true nature lover. He got his scuba diving licence in 1995 and his skiing coach licence in 1996 in Canada.

He was also a member of the Canadian Yacht Association and enjoyed sailing a small yacht with a group of friends.

The affection was rooted in his childhood as he grew up with the sea in Macau.

“The water in Macau was always muddy and I thought it was so mysterious. So I always wanted to dive into the water and see what was actually there,” he laughed.

1 Comment »

  1. L.S. Wong Said:

    It’s inspiring for the youngsters to explore different world views as much as possible and also to preserve our own good traditional aspects.

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