From zero to hero – this pretty much describes the story of Matthew Lui Yue-chun, who went from being a gang member to a respected public figure. Known as “Zero Boy”, Lui scored zilch in his first attempt at the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE). It became a defining moment for him. Today, he holds two master’s degrees and a PhD. He works as a financial planner for AIA Hong Kong and part-time as a principal and teacher at an education centre.
How did you become Zero Boy?
I came from a broken family. My father was a drug addict and I grew up in a public housing estate, living off social welfare. With this kind of start, I told myself I had every excuse to do poorly at school. I was a triad member in secondary school and was expelled on a number of occasions. My record was so bad that I had a hard time finding a school that would enrol me. I worked as a printing apprentice after quitting Form Four. The working conditions were unbearable, so I decided to attend night school and sit the HKCEE. I was such a poor student that I scored zero in the exam.
What inspired you to turn things around?
With my zero HKCEE score, I went to interview for a job as a messenger. When they asked me to fill in an application form, I was stunned because it was in English and I didn’t even know how to write my address. When the employer looked at my embarrassing application form, he said: “What makes you think you qualify for this job?” That was a wake-up call for me because I couldn’t even become a messenger. I knew that I had to do something.
I set a goal for myself – I must work hard for a better future. A friend from church was kind enough to support me to study again, and this time I gave my best effort and scored 19 points in my second HKCEE attempt. I went on to university, and graduated with a first class honours degree.
How did you become a financial planner?
After graduation, I became a liberal studies teacher at a secondary school and was active in voluntary work with youngsters. In 2006, I was selected [by the Junior Chamber International Hong Kong] as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Persons” – which changed my life forever. During the selection process, I met my mentor, Sa