Remembering the life of Stanley Ho, Macao's 'godfather of gambling'

He Hongin fled to Macau during the Second World War, which laid the foundation for his wealth. But this is not without controversy

But before He Hong made Macau, he had to make his own decision.

Ho, who was born in 1921, experienced a difficult young time when his father fled to Saigon after his bankruptcy in the late 1920s, and his father had nothing on this side. Soon after, the Second World War broke out.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Britain and the United States declared war on Japan. The Japanese invaded the British colony of Hong Kong, and despite strong resistance, the city fell on Christmas Day.

Jill McGivering recalled in “Remember Macau” that He Hongfor, who had served as an air strike guard, threw away his uniform because he was afraid that Hong Kong would be executed under Japanese rule.

However, unlike the thousands of people who died of hunger, died in battle or in the hands of the Japanese, He Hong had a choice.

His uncle Zeng was Sir Robert Houghton, a wealthy Eurasian comprador. He was the first Chinese to live on the top of a hill in Hong Kong. The hilltop is a wealthy area that only allows Westerners to live.

By the 1940s, Sir Robert lived in Macau and invited then 20-year-old He Hong to join his Portuguese colony, where he waited for a lot of opportunities.

In the 1990s, Ho Hout told historian Philip Snow that he wrote a book about the fall of Hong Kong and Japanese occupation: “I made a lot of money from the war.”

This is his approach.

Macau: City of Peace

By the early 1940s, with most of China controlled by Japan, Macau occupied a unique place in Asian theaters.

Portugal remained neutral during the war until 1944, therefore, Macau was also regarded as a neutral territory. The colony was managed by the Portuguese government Gabriel Maurício Teixeira and the mysterious Dr. Pedro José Lobo (Dr. Lobo for short).

However, Japan controls the oceans and ports around Macau. This meant that Macau had to cooperate with the Japanese to allow food and supplies to enter the colony. For Teixeira and Lobo, there is a delicate balance between maintaining the territorial integrity of the territory and avoiding open cooperation with the Japanese.

The war situation in Macau is grim. With a shortage of food supplies and rampant inflation, the colony had to deal with an increasing number of Chinese and European refugees. Smuggling and the black market are booming.

To solve this problem, Rob created the Macau Cooperation Company (CCM). Rob asked Sir Robert Holden if anyone could trust him as company secretary.

What Sir Robert recommended.

CCM is arguably the most important institution in Macao during the war-the organization that fed the colony. Its main role is to maintain Macao’s economic vitality, self-sufficiency and balance the delicate relationship with Japan.

It is one-third owned by Lobo, one-third by Macau’s wealthiest Portuguese family, and the last one-third by the Japanese Army.

Mr. He knew the settings when he joined.

In an interview with Simon Holberton of the Financial Times more than half a century later, Ho Hou said: “I am responsible for the barter system, helping the Macao government exchange mechanical equipment with the Japanese, In exchange for rice, sugar, beans.

“At that time I was a semi-government official. I was a middleman.”

Kerosene King

As the head of the CMM, Mr. Ho was authorized by Lobo to maintain Macao ’s fullness by exchanging anything for the island.

This is not office work. Mr. He must pay by boat and boat regularly to receive the goods and return them to Macau. His work includes confrontation with the Portuguese authorities, Japanese troops, triad gangs, and various Chinese factions.

Ho recalled in his memoirs that his primary task was to learn Portuguese and Japanese because his job was to trade barter between the two.

He Hongin had a bold element in his life in Macau during the war. Between French Indochina and Macau, sailing along the coastal areas of southern China and near Hainan Island with rice, vegetables, beans, flour, sugar and other items, which means avoiding the use of pirate gangs who will be on the way Take away your gold, and take away your gold on the way out.

Macau's coastline in 1941.

Nationalist Chinese guerrillas or communist guerrillas are also keen to provide themselves with supplies or cash. Many people regard CCM activities as cooperation with the enemy.

According to historian Geoffrey Gunn, it is well known that Japanese naval ships will take photographs with various forms of civil aviation tools, and in the later period of the war, American and British submarines may sink any ships they think are at war with Japan .

Joe Studwell said that during this period, Ho Hong Ho opened a kerosene plant under the condition of insufficient public fuel supply. Why did his family member “Asian Godfather” do more Interviews.

At the end of the war, the United States worried that Japan would take over Macau completely and use it as a base to defend southern China and Hong Kong. The United States blew up Macau ’s gasoline terminal in early 1945 to refuse to supply oil to the Japanese Navy and Air Force. force.

This attack wiped out the only other source of kerosene in Macau, inadvertently making He Hongto both vital to Macau ’s continued operation and extremely wealthy.


After the war, Ho Hong Ho faced criticism of working with the Japanese.

But Macau ’s wartime neutrality has always been influenced by Japan-especially after the fall of Hong Kong. In 1943, when Tokyo requested the appointment of Japanese consultants to oversee Macau, a virtual Japanese protected area was established on the island. Contact is inevitable. Mr. He claimed that he had provided English courses to Colonel Zawa, the Japanese secret military police chief in Macau.

However, the Chinese Kuomintang government, which has been battling fiercely with Tokyo since 1937, believes that the commercial transactions of Ho Ho C and CMM are dangerous and supports the Japanese war against China.

By the end of the Second World War, He Hongtan had accumulated a fortune. This picture is from 1971.

Chinese officials tried to arrest why they cooperated, but according to himself, the Portuguese colonial police protected him. By the second half of 1945, He Hou was deeply entrenched and was so important to the Macau economy that the Portuguese government could not hand him over to China.

In his reply, Ho Ho wrote that when he asked why the Japanese should be treated like the Chinese, he claimed to be told “this is the order of the Portuguese government”, “If there is no food, the people of Macau will starve to death.” ”

After the war

By the end of World War II in 1945, He Hongtan had achieved four important things-first, he consolidated his lifelong relationship with Macau ’s great unofficial boss Lobo.

Then, in 1942, he married the daughter of a wealthy Portuguese family and provided him with protection and social status. Third, he accumulated a fortune and became a millionaire on his 24th birthday. Fourth, he established the rice trade, kerosene and construction industries.


He has cash, positions, family and good friends.

He was ready to reshape Macau and make large-scale investments in Hong Kong after the war. He Hongthe wrote in his memoirs: “Macao was a paradise during the war.”

As they said, Mr. He ’s war is very good.

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