169th Congregation (2004)
The Public Orator, Dr Elaine Yee-lin Ho, wrote and delivered the following citation:
Situated at the crossroads between east and west, Hong Kong has a long history of welcoming people from different nations and ethnicities. Many families who came from other places have settled in Hong Kong and in the course of the past two centuries, worked industriously to help build Hong Kong into the thriving cosmopolis that it is today. Among these families, the name of the Kadoories shines as beacon of distinction. Michael David Kadoorie, the man we honour today, is the latest in a long and outstanding family tradition of entrepreneurial success and contribution to Hong Kong.
Of Jewish ancestry, Michael Kadoorie was born in Hong Kong in 1941, and educated at King George V School in Hong Kong, and later, Le Rosey, Switzerland. From a very young age, his parents and other senior family members impressed upon him that the privilege to which he was born came with great obligation and responsibility. This family ethic shaped his thinking and actions as he became incorporated into the Kadoorie business enterprises, and was strengthened and confirmed through his growing involvement in the family's philanthropic activities.
Now, as Chairman of China Light and Power Holdings Ltd and Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd, and Director of many other enterprises, Mr Kadoorie's own success in sustaining and building a business empire is widely recognized in Hong Kong and internationally. But despite a hectic schedule of directing numerous transnational commercial and investment projects, Michael Kadoorie continues to devote his energy and resources to diverse philanthropic projects. Working closely with family members as a Trustee of The Kadoorie Charitable Foundations, he has been crucial in transforming the Foundation into the modern, orderly, and well-managed organization that it is now. This transformation was undertaken to enable the Foundation to be much more effective in realizing its mission of "partnership with the people".
A cardinal principle of this mission is that the Foundation's support should not be considered as charity by its beneficiaries but as gifts. Michael Kadoorie has emphasized on many occasions that the purpose of the gifts is to offer the recipients some of the advantages which the accidents of birth and history did not afford them. These gifts are to enable their recipients to make a start so that they can develop their talents, build up their own resources, and become self-sustaining in time. And in time, those who began in underprivileged can go on to become active contributors to society, and potential leaders.
The University of Hong Kong is one of the organizations which has benefited from the generous support of Mr Kadoorie and his family over the years. Everyone at HKU knows about the Kadoorie Farm and Kadoorie Agricultural Research Centre. Michael Kadoorie must be Hong Kong's most successful farmer - and most successful for he has devoted himself to the cultivation and nurture of human potential, Hong Kong's most precious and abundant natural resource. The Hong Kong community at large has benefited from Michael Kadoorie in his long-held position as Honorary Vice-Patron of the Community Chest. Mr Kadoorie also takes a keen interest in the affairs of the Jewish community in Hong Kong through his positions as past Committee Member and currently Member of Synagogue "Ohel Leah".
Michael Kadoorie's philanthropic activities extend beyond Hong Kong to other Asian countries, notably Nepal and also India. His extensive involvement in Nepal actually began in Hong Kong, with the Gurkha community here. The Kadoorie Foundation set up educational courses enabling retired Gurkhas to acquire agricultural knowledge, and provided resources to them to start their own farms. For more than thirty years, the Foundation has gifted more than one million people in Nepal. These gifts have led to the transformation of entire villages, the opening of schools, large-scale infrastructural improvements, and the training of skilled staff to run and manage different organizations. In his personal involvement, one which continues today in his visits to Nepal, Michael Kadoorie has fully realized his family's philanthropic mission of "partnership with the people". Recently, he has also been involved in projects to rebuild schools in India.
Michael Kadoorie's philanthropic passion is shared by his wife, Betty, and his three children. In inheriting his family's distinctive tradition of gift-giving, Michael Kadoorie has contributed enormously to building up the philanthropic culture of Hong Kong. At the same time, his untiring work elsewhere in Asia has enhanced Hong Kong's international reputation not only for entrepreneurial acumen but also for care and concern for communities beyond our own borders. He has been honoured by the Governments of France and Belgium, and in 2003, he was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star by the Government of the Hong Kong SAR.
Mr Pro-Chancellor, it is my honour to present Michael David Kadoorie for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.