05/26/2020, 11.16
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Stanley Ho, patriarch of Macau casinos, friend of China and the Church, has died

by Paul Wang

He was 98 years old. Nearly 20 casinos in the city were his, including Grande Lisboa. For China he is "a patriotic entrepreneur". He was also a benefactor of the Church, with a Vatican honor. He was among the drafters of Macau's Basic Law and adviser for Hong Kong. He had four wives and 17 children.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Stanley Ho Hung-sun, the patriarch of Macau casinos, died in a hospital in Hong Kong this morning, say sources close to the family. Stanley Ho was 98 years old and for decades he built the gambling empire in the territory of Macau, making it more competitive and attractive than Las Vegas. Nearly 20 casinos in the city were his, including Grande Lisboa.

Macau is the destination for many popular Chinese leaders, who spend the weekend in the island's casinos, bewitched by gambling. This allowed Stanley Ho to cultivate high-ranking friendships and to have excellent relations with the Chinese Communist Party. A Chinese state media obituary calls him "a patriotic businessman."

By the time he retired from business last year, he had amassed a wealth of 50 billion Hong Kong dollars [nearly 6 billion euros]. This great wealth has allowed him to be generous and he was engaged in many charitable and cultural activities. He also respected of the work of the Catholic Church. Among the things they remember about him, is the concession for religious personnel to travel for free between Macau and Hong Kong. Some Catholics recall that in the 1990s the Vatican also awarded him the honor of the order of Saint Gregory for service to the Church and to the population.

Stanley Ho has however received honors from many parts: from the British, when they dominated Hong Kong; by Tung Chee-hwa, first governor of the territory after returning to China; by the Portuguese government in Macau, and by the Macao government after returning to China, which even dedicated a road to him while he was still alive.

He was among the writers of Macau's Basic Law, for the passage of the island to China, and among the advisors for the Basic Law of Hong Kong.

With a great flair for business, he built his empire almost out of nothing. His once wealthy family had become very poor. Thanks to his talent, first in Hong Kong and then in Macau, he became one of the richest men in Asia.

He had four wives and 17 children. Several of them, with him alive, quarreled over the inheritance of their father's wealth.

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