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In Memory of Payson Cha Mou-Sing

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The First Managing Director of Hong Kong Resort
Photos courtesy of HKR International

Being alive is good. And for that we can raise a glass to the first Managing Director of Hong Kong Resort Mr Payson Cha Mou-sing, the man who made the Discovery Bay lifestyle possible.

Chairman of HKR International from 2007 to 2020, Mr Cha passed peacefully on November 7, 2020 in San Francisco, aged 78. Mr Cha is remembered as a loving family man, a pioneering businessman and a faithful friend. His modesty, compassion and respect for others will be deeply missed.

Known as the curator of DB, Mr Cha dreamt up the initial blueprint for DB and went on to guide the development through its formative years. At that time, a community like DB was a completely new concept and there was no precedent to follow. Thanks to his leadership and contribution, a harmonious community was set up.

A true people person, Mr Cha was extremely popular with both DB’s early residents and his staff. His benevolence and practicality extended to the workplace where he treated everyone as an equal, and insisted on employing people according to their character and ability rather than their background.

The mastermind behind DB
The eldest son in an entrepreneurial family, Mr Cha left home at age 15 to study in Australia and the US. He went on to start a real estate company in the US in the mid- 1960s before joining the family textile business in Nigeria.

Mr Cha’s return to Hong Kong came in 1977 when he was asked to assist with the development of Discovery Bay – a pioneering project that would make a lasting impression on developers throughout the region.

At that time, DB was a barren stretch of forbidding coastline which could only be accessed by sea. There was no pier so even the task of bringing in construction equipment was immense.

“I vividly remember the day I first set foot on Lantau’s north-east
shore. Back then it was sparsely populated with just two villages. We, however, saw the possibility of a radically new concept of residential neighbourhoods,” Mr Cha later recalled.

Realising that the project needed a bold new mindset, Mr Cha recruited fellow young professionals from around the world. Together with his team, he overcame challenging odds to create a remarkable complex of homes that would be widely acknowledged across Asia as a ground-breaking concept for sustainable, integrated living.

Driven by his inherited spirit as an industrialist and entrepreneur, Mr Cha prioritised five core elements for the DB community: quality, privacy, security, convenience and tranquility. By so doing, he not only created a successful residential development but an entirely new lifestyle for people in Hong Kong. Today, DB is home to residents from over 50 different countries and it has become a blueprint for creative developers around the region.

A true fighter
Mr Cha was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2000. He was told that even with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, his chances of surviving for a year were only 15% to 16%.

“I only had one thought,” he later recalled. “Since the demon of illness had come knocking, I would fight it. I would not give up. To me, life is most beautiful. Some people complain daily… that this is not good in life, or that is not good in life. However, for me, every day I stay alive is a good day, a beautiful day.”

Mr Cha’s attitude to life was borne out of his experiences in Nigeria, where he saw first-hand the incredible determination of people to survive even in the most challenging conditions. “My operation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy were difficult, of course, but the hospitals had such good doctors, and such good facilities, and I had so many family members and friends around me.

What was there to complain about? How could I not continue to live?”

Determined to make a full recovery, Mr Cha also made it a priority to help fellow cancer patients. With characteristic vigour, he researched cancer treatments, spoke at length to those battling the disease, and shared the story of his fight back to health in his book, Being Alive Is Good.

Mr Cha’s story continues to offer hope and inspiration to countless cancer patients and their families. He held cancer at bay for 20 years and was one of the longest-living survivors of pancreatic cancer before his passing in November last year.

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