Shrinking community still has big role to play in HK

Sir Roger Lobo's outstanding public service and private career stand out

Jason Wordie Thursday June 10 1993

Sir Roger LoboClick on the SEARCH icon and enter his ID number (22200) to be taken to his personal page has surely carved a niche for himself in this corner of the world, and stands out as one of the many Portuguese who have made a contribution to Hongkong society.

Although nearly 70, the high-profile chairman of the Broadcasting Authority still leads a life active enough to put much younger men to shame.

By his own admission, Sir Roger is a still a workaholic.

All that hard work has obviously paid off and it has earned him an endless stream of honours and decorations. Those who know him describe him as a person of great humility, warmth and goodwill. He is also a great philanthropist.

A man of overwhelming confidence and optimism, Sir Roger immediately impresses as the sort of man who will invariably achieve any goal he sets for himself.

Although he has chosen to settle in this corner of the globe, his allegiance to Portugal remains steadfast. Both his parents were Portuguese.

"It pains me to see that the local Portuguese community is growing smaller," he said.

"Visiting clubs like Lusitano and Recreio, there's a noticeable lack of young Portuguese families. . . so unlike the old days," Sir Roger said.

"When I first came to Hongkong, there were Portuguese families galore – entire family clans, especially on festive occasions like Christmas.

"Today, I look around and wonder where the children are. More and more, I'm asking myself, 'Where are our young people? Our successors? Indeed, what has happened to our next generation?' "After all, we have a proud heritage. We should never lose sight of certain facts: we've had great leaders in the community.

"I am a God-fearing man. I received my earliest education at the Jesuit seminary in Macau, just as my father did before me.

"It has become something of a family tradition to learn under the Jesuits, as all my children have attended universities taught by this particular religious order," he said.

"Apart from brief periods spent in the United States, Africa and Europe, I've remained in Hongkong ever since." During his many years in Hongkong, Sir Roger has worked at a variety of jobs and watched the territory grow into what it is today. He served with the Housing Authority for 18 years, the Urban Council for 17, Legco for 14, and the Executive Council for 12years.

He is now a director of nine well-known organisations, including the Broadcasting Authority.

He became a Justice of the Peace in 1963. Other honours and decorations followed in the wake of his continued services to the community. He was honoured by the Vatican and made Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great in 1969; awarded the OBE in 1972, and the CBE in 1978.

In addition, he was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth in 1985.

In spite of his public image, he is, by nature, a very private person.

"People tend to find this hard to believe, since they only know me through media exposure as a high-profile public figure.

"But the truth is that I don't make it a practice of seeking publicity," he said.

Sir Roger is a father of 10.

He said: "I've five boys and five girls, and ours is a very close-knit family; although we're all living in different parts of the world. Anyway, we're hoping to have a family reunion in August." A typical work-day for Sir Roger lasts 12 hours. "Hongkong's a great place and my roots are planted deep here.

"Three days out of the territory and I find myself missing it and wondering what's happening there; I'm looking everywhere for some news about the place." he said.

And as familiar as he is with what has been achieved by his fellow countrymenfrom this side of the world, he delivered a paper on the Portuguese of theEast a couple of years ago in Portugal before an international delegation of400.

"Although our community may be shrinking, we've made our mark here; and the bottom line is that the Portuguese still have a role to play in Hongkong."