Dr the Honourable Henry Hu Hung Lick is a brilliant man who attained high rank and status and then devoted himself wholeheartedly to philanthropy - in particular to the provision of higher education for those who could not otherwise secure a place in a tertiary institution.
Dr Hu was born in Zhejiang Province in 1920 - which, I believe, makes him a remarkable ninety-five years of age! He came from an intellectual rather than wealthy background, but his father died when he was still quite young and he did not attend school until he was eight. He was, however, an extremely bright child. One of his early escapades (when he was fifteen) was to leave school to join the Chinese navy in their fight against Japan without telling his mother! He soon became disillusioned, however, with military life. Returning to his studies he completed his school leaving examination graduating as the top student out of some 30,000 competitors! I think by this time his mother may have forgiven him. He then studied law and diplomacy at the National University of Political Science in China intending to become a diplomat. Again having obtained outstanding results, he learnt Russian before assuming a post in Tashkent in today's Uzbekistan.
It also happened before going to Tashkent that he made what was perhaps the most important move of his life. He married Dr Chung Chi Yung and the couple embarked together upon a wonderful adventure. Indeed, almost everything from then on became part of a joint venture. Their lives and successes were indivisibly interwoven.
The happy couple went to France to study where Dr Hu, at his own expense, obtained a Doctorate in Law and a Diploma of High Studies in International Law and International Affairs from the University of Paris. Dr Hu has shown me his thesis which is entitled "The Korean Problem". It is written in French. He must indeed be a remarkably talented linguist. Dr Hu then decided that a career in law more befitted him than a career as a diplomat in Government service so he travelled to England to study for the Bar. Having successfully passed his Bar examinations and having been admitted by Middle Temple in 1954, he decided to establish his practice in Hong Kong. Upon their arrival Dr Chung pursued an academic life while Dr Hu commenced his practice at the Bar. Dr Hu quickly gained a reputation for assisting the poorer members of our community; in particular in his specialist area of Chinese customary law in respect of family and succession matters. Indeed, he became so well versed in these matters that he was often called as an expert witness. Remarkably, he continued to practise and appear in court into his late 80s! I am sure he has set a record as the oldest practising barrister in Hong Kong.
Dr Hu has also devoted his time and energy to public service. In 1976 he was appointed to the Legislative Council and also served as a prominent member of the Urban Council. In particular, he advocated the cause for Chinese to become one of Hong Kong's official languages.
Both Dr Hu and his wife were not, however, satisfied merely with leading successful professional lives. They were concerned about many social issues, one of which was the acute shortage of tertiary education places available, especially for those lacking substantial funds. In 1971, largely through the inspiration of Dr Chung, the illustrious pair founded Shue Yan College, meaning a place for the cultivation of virtue. Their aim was to provide a liberal arts education based upon Confucian values stressing the importance of Chinese culture. With their hard-earned money they purchased land and buildings in Happy Valley and Wanchai and started to admit students to their programmes. Despite offers from Government to provide additional funds, Dr Hu and his wife did not want to have to comply with the strings attached to such provision of funds and they refused assistance. Shue Yan was successful and in 1976 was recognised by Government as a private tertiary institution. It was only in 2006, however, after many years of increasing success and having gained a stellar reputation for the academic quality of its courses, that Government accredited Shue Yan College with university status under its new name of "The Hong Kong Shue Yan University". It was the first and remains the only private university in Hong Kong. Sadly, Dr Chung passed away last year but their children, imbued with their parents' dream, have enthusiastically taken up the challenge of running the institution. Dr Hu is now its President and he continues to play an active role, particularly in matters of campus development. Dr Hu's two sons, Dr Hu Fai Chung and Professor Hu Yao Su have followed their parents' example and continue to serve the community by providing administrative and academic leadership to the University.
In sum, Shue Yan's success has been achieved through the joint determination and individual talents of the two Doctors. While Dr Chung provided the pedagogic leadership and looked after academic concerns, Dr Hu took responsibility for providing the necessary funds and, with his many connections, planned and oversaw the construction of new buildings, including student accommodation, and the logistics in running the enterprise. Theirs was a truly harmonious and symbiotic endeavour.
Over more than forty years many thousands of students have benefitted from the generosity and inspiration of the two Doctors and Shue Yan University is now fully established and admired amongst Hong Kong's tertiary institutions.
Dr Hu has received countless honours and distinctions. He was awarded an honorary OBE by the Colonial Government (it had to be honorary since he was not a British citizen!) in 1964 and, more than thirty years later, both a Grand Bauhinia Medal and Gold Bauhinia Star by the HKSAR Government. He also served as a member of the Standing Committee of the 9th CPPCC National Committee.
Mr Pro-Chancellor, Dr Hu and his wife have devoted themselves selflessly to community service, particularly in broadening the opportunities for tertiary education for our younger generation. They deserve our profound admiration and gratitude.
Dr Hu tells me that he has, through his industrious life, been guided by one fundamental principle:
"Learn to see things from other's perspectives and put your own self-interest last".
Mr Pro-Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to present to you Dr the Honourable Henry Hu Hung Lick for the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences honoris causa.
Citation written and delivered by Professor Michael Wilkinson, the Public Orator of the University.