Marion FANG Sum Suk
Doctor of Social Sciences
The Public Orator Professor Lee Ngok, M.A., PH.D., Dip.Ed., wrote and delivered the following citation:
In the early 1950’s, Hong Kong benefited greatly from the influx of Shanghai textile industrialists. It also received the Fang family which has made significant contributions to the civil service, Medicine, Art, and Education. Marion Fang Sum Suk dedicated 35 years of her active career to education, ten in a secondary school and 25 in a special one. Her schooling reflects strong Hong Kong-Shanghai ties, including a first degree from Fudan University. On receiving a Diploma in the education of physically handicapped children from the Institute of Education in London, Marion Fang was ready to carry the torch for the underprivileged. Mr. Chancellor, in honouring our torch bearer today, we are recognizing the efforts of those who unflaggingly and tenaciously strive to provide better living and leisure skills to the mentally and physically handicapped.
As Founder-Principal of the John F. Kennedy Centre in 1967-1991, Marion Fang introduced a team approach to rehabilitation, developed a special curriculum which combined therapy with education, initiated special education for teacher training and organized the Hong Kong Special Schools Council. Above all, she was responsible for introducing to Hong Kong the Hungarian Peto-System which takes a combined educational-therapeutic approach to treating neurologically impaired people. It advocated a holistic and integrative way to call upon physiotherapists, occupational therapists, child care workers and special school teachers to work in a trans-disciplinary environment. Marion Fang firmly believes in congenial interaction between handicapped and conductive education specialists, which can create opportunities for the former to get on with the rest of their lives, something that conventional physiotherapy and occupational therapy have little track record to show. In recognition of her work in rehabilitation and special education, she was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1979 and made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1988. Her expertise in often sought after by Rehabilitation International, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children Fund. Recently, the Tongji Medical University conferred on her an Honorary Professorship.
Mr. Chancellor, Marion Fang reminds us that there is no concrete programme on how to strengthen networks of social support for visceral disabilities irrespective of the Governor’s emphatic reference to the need of the disabled and their families in his last speech to the Legislative Council. To her, the establishment of a Community Rehabilitation Network is vital. Voluntary help from professional bodies and the need to educate the public to accept the chronic patients as an integral part of the community are essential to the success of the Network. Whilst patients with disabilities are encouraged to help themselves, families should also be urged to participate fully in the programme. Quality of life for them includes the ability to be part of the workforce after re-training.
Life has not proved to be any easier after retirement. The need for funding, the urge to rally greater moral and fiscal support, all galvanize Marion’s energy into lobbying, elbowing, and jostling in the interest of the handicapped. In the hue and cry for human rights and equal opportunity, she does not see why the handicapped should not be encouraged to develop their artistic talents. She eagerly awaits good news from the Arts Development Council. Indeed, ‘Arts with the Disabled’ is now a well-recognized trend in Hong Kong. Through observation, performance and participation, she is certain that they can enhance their self-awareness and self-confidence, especially when the able and the disabled work, act and create unique forms of art together.
To our locomotive of rehabilitation, the greatest booster to her work is when she feels mothers’ relentless love and care for their handicapped children. She is at the same time saddened by the news of broken homes when the father leaves the family that direly needs support. So much to do and never enough time or resources. Marion Fang advocates more legislation, greater care from the community, better education for the disabled in both ordinary and special schools, and opportunities for them to show their artistic talents like ordinary people. No doubt, our crusader will strive harder in promoting her good cause. Mr. Chancellor, for her unselfish dedication to work for the disabled, I commend to you Marion Fang Sum Suk for the conferment of the Degree of Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa.