I do not know any detective who is more popular and friendly than Chan King-cheung over the past 20 years.
Well, he is not exactly a detective, but that’s what everyone calls him, respectfully, for his name sounds like the Chinese words for “detective”.
He is also popularly known as KC.
His is usually the first name corporate people come up with when they need help at the Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ). And he never fails, I understand.
After 28 years, Detective Chan will leave the HKEJ family at the end of this year, and his role to lead the online business will be passed to the paper’s editor, Alice Kwok.
I have known him for almost 20 years — since I first joined HKEJ on December 1, 1994. He is the only senior executive I know who has been there for such a long time.
He was never my boss until six months ago when I became a freelancer at HKEJ after a four-year absence in journalism.
“Please give us a helping hand,” he said to me in Tsui Wah, a restaurant near his office where he likes to meet people.
I still could not believe those humble words from a media veteran to a guy who struggled to get back to writing in the new age of journalism.
Every weekday when I struggle to find something interesting to write about, his words inspire me to try harder.
We are both columnists. Chan penned the paper’s must-read editorials for more than a decade, seldom leaving the office before 4am. I filed less serious stuff and usually got out before 7pm.
But the big difference is he has the magic touch of explaining the most complicated political and social issues in the simplest way, which explains why he is among the elite group of influential writers in town.
It is often said HKEJ has been the cradle for the top newsmen in town but even so, they are not as loyal as Detective Chan, who oversaw the golden period in HKEJ and witnessed the change of control from the Lam family to Richard Li.
There must be something special about HKEJ. For journalists, it is like paradise because you can write whatever you like to write and you can virtually write till your arms are worn out because the editorial deadline is often after midnight.
After years of training, HKEJ alumni graduated with honours, just like those who worked in Sun Hung Kai Securities or Hong Kong Telecom in the 80s telling their grandchildren how great it was to work under so many talented people.
When we look back, we could not say how much we treasured working under such a carefree environment which we always took for granted. Now it is a mirage. Sadly, it is the media veteran reshuffle that reminds me how cruel the ecology has become, especially for the best writer I know in HKEJ.
Of course many ex-colleagues could not resist the lure of better prospects and went on to build their careers in investment banking or other fields. The good thing is occasionally their names still appear on HKEJ (or HKEJ.com), thanks to Detective Chan who holds us together.
Now it is time for change, and change is always for the better.
I gather Chan slept only after sunrise, thanks to a long-time habit of reading and monitoring the news before he could press the printing button. That habit stayed with him when he took over the online division.
Now I can only hope he will enjoy some quality sleep and appreciate the beauty of getting up early in Hong Kong for dim sum or tai chi.
Detective Chan, you and your writing will be dearly missed — if you are not too tired to take this compliment.
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