Rita TONG LIU
2018 Honorary Doctorate
Mrs Rita Tong Liu is a distinguished businesswoman possessing superlative wisdom and foresight. She founded Gale Well Group Limited in 1976 and has been the Chairman of the Group for many years. Mrs Liu is the wife of the late Mr Thomas Liu Lit-ching, a son of Mr Liu Po-shan who was the founder of Chong Hing Bank and Liu Chong Hing Investment.
With her vision allied to indomitable courage and determination, Mrs Liu is always able to turn crisis situations into opportunities. Her decisions to invest in carparks during the dot-com bubble in 2000, and to switch to office and retail space in 2003 when the SARS epidemic shattering confidence of all investors helped the company to get through the property downturn and expand exponentially thereafter. She believes a stable portfolio with quality management services nurturing long term relationships can attract global conglomerates and thus strengthen the territory’s position as the international business centre. As well as being a highly successful business leader, Mrs Liu is also seen as the spiritual leader by members of the family for both family business and charitable works which involve two generations working closely together.
Modest and generous by nature, Mrs Liu is also a well-respected philanthropist who aims to serve mankind by giving back to the community. She founded L & T Charitable Foundation and Rita T Liu Foundation in 2004 and 2015 respectively. The two Foundations have donated over hundreds of millions of dollars to the Hong Kong community including higher education institutions and non-governmental organisations. The numerous projects supported by the L & T Charitable Foundation include the remarkable saltpans of Yim Tin Tsai (Sai Kung), which, together with St. Joseph's Chapel, won the Award of Merit of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2005, as well as the Award of Distinction of UNESCO in 2015. It is a unique distinction for an island to have won two UNESCO Awards. As a devout Catholic, Mrs Liu recently made a very significant donation with her family to the Caritas Institute of Higher Education to help the school upgrade its accreditation to become the first private Catholic university in Hong Kong in the near future.
Born to a family of timber traders in Macau, Mrs Liu learned to be independent at a very young age as she helped her widowed mother taking care of the family business. She received exposure to Western culture at an early age, being sent to high school in the United Kingdom at the age of 16. She attended Kansas University and later New York University majoring in Business Administration in the late 1960s.
As an ardent supporter of educational and cultural activities, Mrs Liu has made enormous contributions to the local community, particularly in the areas of arts, culture and women’s welfare. She is the Vice Chairman and Honorary Senior President of the Hong Kong Federation of Women and Honorary Life President of All-China Women's Federation Hong Kong Delegates Association. She has also taken up prominent roles to serve on boards or advisory committees of various women’s associations, charitable organisations and universities in Hong Kong and the Mainland.
The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts has been very fortunate to have Mrs Liu as its long-term supporter and loyal friend. Mrs Liu has pledged a significant amount in support of the further advancement and strategic development of the Academy in 2018. She has also supported the Academy through The Society of the Academy for Performing Arts (SAPA) which is a fundraising arm of the Academy. Mrs Liu was the Joint President of SAPA from 1999 to 2001, and remains an Executive Committee Member of SAPA to this day. She has donated to SAPA via Galaxy Wall Star sponsorship and Academy Ball table sponsorship over the years. Her daughter Ms Jennifer Liu Wai-fun helped co-chair the SAPA fundraising event which raised HK$6.8 million for scholarship funds of the Academy in 2015.
Mrs Liu is also active in public and community service. Her tremendous contributions and achievements in many spheres of Hong Kong life have been recognised with several honours and awards, including the Bronze Bauhinia Star (BBS) and the Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS) awarded by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and also the Hong Kong Red Cross Badge of Honour for Devoted Service. She has also been given the Arbor Award by the University of Toronto in Canada. Mrs Liu was named by Forbes Asia as the 25th wealthiest person on their Hong Kong Rich List of 2018.