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Frank Tsao dies at 94

Frank Tsao dies at 94

(Posted on 14/08/19)

Frank Tsao Wen-king, founder of International Maritime Carriers (IMC), has died peacefully with family members around him on 12 August. The much respected and acclaimed shipping veteran was 94 years old.

His success in dry bulker business early in his career meant that he was regarded as one of the four ‘kings’ of modern shipping in Hong Kong.

Born in Shanghai in 1925, Tsao was a graduate of Shanghai’s St. John’s University, He remained in close touch with his Chinese roots and was actively involved in developments in China.

Tsao started his career working in family-owned companies engaged in banking, transportation and international trade in Shanghai. He then ventured into shipping companies in Hong Kong, co-founding Great Southern Steamship Co. Ltd in 1949. In 1966, he established International Maritime Carriers (IMC) Ltd. in Hong Kong as a shipping company. It eventually grew into a substantial enterprise with ships transporting a wide range of commodities worldwide.

Tsao donated to universities for the advancement of maritime education, training and research and nurtured maritime talent through university scholarships in Dalian, Hong Kong, Qingdao, Shanghai and Zhoushan. He provided the financial resources for its academics and the maritime community. In 2006, the Dalian Provincial Government awarded him the title of “Honorary Citizen” in recognition of his support to its economy.

Throughout his long and illustrious career, Tsao played a pivotal role in shaping the growth of the maritime industry and in promoting maritime education and research in Asia. In Malaysia, he partnered the Malaysian Government in 1968 to help establish her first national shipping line – the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation Bhd. In 1973, His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the Bahasa Malaysia term for “King”) of Malaysia conferred upon Mr Tsao the title of “Tan Sri” in recognition of his many contributions to the country, including the assistance he provided and his investment in Malaysia’s first shipyard, her first seamen’s training institute and the modernisation of her maritime legal framework.

In 2005, Mr Tsao helped to establish the Centre for Maritime Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and sat on the Board of Directors as Chairman. In 2007, he played a key role in establishing the permanent secretariat of the Asian Shipowners Forum (ASF) in Singapore.

He is also the first Asian recipient of the CMA Commodore Award from the Connecticut Maritime Association of the US in 2002. His important contributions to the maritime industry also won him other awards such as the Silver Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong SAR Government in 2006 and Honorary Citizen Award by the Singapore Government.

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