27 January 2020
Last month Raymond Young and Teresa Cheung staged the Golden Oldies Fundraising Concert organized by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Photo: HKEJ
Last month Raymond Young and Teresa Cheung staged the Golden Oldies Fundraising Concert organized by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Photo: HKEJ

Raymond Young: How to live a meaningful life

Born in 1960, Raymond Young Lap-moon graduated from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Hong Kong in 1982.

He entered the civil service in the same year in August and was appointed administrative officer.

Under the old pension scheme, he is entitled to a permanent pension when he retires at 55.

But in the middle of last year, when he turned 54, he quit the civil service and took his accumulated annual leaves to pursue his passion for singing and the arts.

Speaking about his feelings in an interview, Young cited the lyrics in Beyond’s “Under a Vast Sky”: “Many times I’ve faced the cold shoulder and ridicule/Never have I given up my heart’s hopes and ideals.”

Over the past 32 years, he served in various government agencies, including the Education and Manpower Bureau, Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau and Trade and Industry Department.

He also became director of the Celebrations Co-ordination Office, and served as Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs until his retirement.

He said he was able to retire early not because he had big savings or struck gold in investments. He is only relying on his pension and fixed income such a revenue from renting out property.

“Early retirement is out of reach for most people. You have to join the government prior to a certain date. And the pension will adjust along with inflation each year, and the living costs won’t fall back. Sorry if I make other people envious.”

Also, he chose not to take the lump-sum pension gratuity in order to get more monthly pension.

“I’m good at investment. All I have is cash and two rental properties. And my financial consultant is taking care of my investment.”

Civil servants appointed before July 1987 are entitled to retire at 55. And those appointed after that month can retire at 60.

Since the Hong Kong government introduced the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme in June 2000, civil servants no longer enjoy the permanent pension.

Save for education

Young has a very simple rule on personal finance — reduce fluctuations in income and expenses.

He started early to save money for his son’s education to avoid difficulties in supporting his education abroad.

The government only provides allowance for overseas education of civil servants’ children below 19. That means he had to take care of that after his son completed secondary school in Hong Kong.

“The financial burden is manageable as I have only one child. And it costs less to study in the UK than in the US. The annual tuition and living expenses amount to around HK$300,000, which was affordable for me. I didn’t need to save a lot each month.”

Three meals a day

In the past, senior government officials usually took a break after retirement before joining the private sector. 

Young, having developed strong connections in society, is a shoo-in for a top post in a private company.

But he has no interest in business or investments. He wants to put his heart and soul into singing and the arts. He plans to publish a novel about life and death by year-end.

“I’m a keen reader, and I love doing the arts and writing all the time. I watched my dad write day and night when I was young. And I would read his books sometimes. With that influence, I have developed a great interest in literature.

“I don’t have too many material needs. I chose to become a civil servant not to make a big fortune but to serve society and live a stable life. As the old saying goes, ‘you can only have three meals a day even if you have enormous wealth and lie on one bed even if you have a thousand rooms’. You have to live a meaningful life and be faithful to your dreams.”

Over the last year, Young was able to return to singing and composed many songs.

Last month Young and Teresa Cheung Tak-lan staged the Golden Oldies Fundraising Concert organized by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and directed by principal conductor Yan Huichang.

For two unforgettable nights, Young and Cheung, together with the orchestra, fascinated the audience with songs and music of yesteryears.

This is the last in a two-part series on Raymond Young. This article appeared in the Hong Kong Private Banking Journal on Nov. 18.

Translation by Julie Zhu

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