Citations and Speeches


166th Congregation (2003)

Rosanna WONG Yick Ming
Doctor of Social Sciences

The Public Orator, Dr Elaine Yee-lin Ho, wrote and delivered the following citation:

A university must serve the whole community, but the most vital part of its mission is to help in the continuous regeneration of society through providing opportunities and challenges for the young. Today, the University of Hong Kong honours one of its own graduates whose professional and public-service career has been dedicated to putting these high ambitions into practice.

Born in 1952, Rosanna Wong was educated at St Stephen's Girls College. As a student and a Christian, she did voluntary work for the underprivileged, and her active involvement in this work testifies to an early call to the vocation of social service. Right from the start, Rosanna Wong was sure of her calling, and her subsequent educational training, and professional and political achievements all bear witness to a life that has been lived in fulfilment of her vocation and in justification of her faith.

Rosanna Wong entered the University of Hong Kong in 1972 to read for a degree in Social Science. Upon graduation in 1975, she applied for a job at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups – her only job application – and after further training at the University of Toronto where she obtained a Master in Social Work in 1979, she became, at the young age of 28, Executive Director of the Federation.

In the early years when she was Executive Director, she had to negotiate with government agencies who dealt with youth problems as a law and order issue. The Federation's remedial work for young criminals provided a much-needed human dimension to the official approach. At the same time, she planned and established new programmes that are preventative and developmental. These include counselling services for young people at risk, a hotline service for problem youth, social skills training, moral and civil education in schools, and leadership development.

The Federation offered Rosanna Wong a place and an opportunity to serve the community, and especially, its young, and in turn, her organisational skills and ability to inspire and motivate enabled the Federation to expand progressively under her leadership. Mr Pro-Chancellor, today, the Federation is an organisation with close to 800 members of staff, and the biggest and most comprehensive provider of youth services in Hong Kong. In over twenty years of service, Rosanna Wong did not waver in her belief that it is in the nurture of its young that a society affirms its commitment to a better future.

To better co-ordinate the human and other resources she deploys so that those under her care can be best served, Rosanna Wong sought to improve her own managerial skills through further study. In 1983, she obtained a Master of Science degree from the London School of Economics, followed by a Diploma in Executive Management from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1985, and a Ph.D from the University of California, Davis in 1997. During this period, rigorous formal training went hand in hand with increasing participation in public affairs and political life in Hong Kong. Her achievements both within the academy and in the public sphere demonstrate a capacity for hard work and a single-minded devotion to duty, qualities that ensured her recognition by all with whom she came into contact.

Between 1985 and 1991, Rosanna Wong was a member of the Legislative Council. For part of these six years, from 1988-1991, she was also a member of the Executive Council, and her appointment to the Executive Council continued until recently, in 2002. She also chaired the Hong Kong Housing Authority between 1993-2000, and is currently Chairperson of the Education Commission. In the late nineteen eighties and early nineteen nineties, in the face of much wariness, doubt and hesitation, Rosanna Wong fought hard for the establishment of a Youth Commission, and for the lowering of the voting age to eighteen. In these hard-won successes, she fully demonstrated her confidence in the ability of the young people of Hong Kong to shoulder responsibility, and the need to open up channels for their social and political participation, and for inclusiveness in government planning of youth policies.

Her contribution to the community has reached out from youth services to other sectors, and in the performance of duty, she shows a fundamental respect for the people she serves, whatever their class or status. As she says in an article, 'In any social service policy, the most important issue is that it must protect and respect individual dignity... In Hong Kong, we have to be careful in ensuring that whatever system we adopt will not injure individual self-esteem, and will not bring social discord. As long as the citizens understand clearly that their enjoyment of appropriate social service is a right, and that the government is caring and recognizes the provision of such service is a responsibility, then problems can be resolved. Rosanna Wong understands that sometimes citizens need to be reminded of their rights and governments need to be reminded of their responsibilities.

Mr Pro-Chancellor, the trials and tribulations of public life take their toll on even the most able. In moments of adversity when even her best efforts seem to be of no avail, Rosanna Wong would turn temporarily away from active life to contemplation and self-reflection. She finds help and succour from her religious faith, especially from the Old Testament: "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah, XXXI, 15). It is in her faith that Rosanna Wong finds constant inspiration and constant renewal. Rosanna Wong has devoted her energies to the welfare and well-being of the people of Hong Kong, and in her, Hong Kong has also nurtured a strong leader who is loyal, open and humane.

Mr Pro-Chancellor, it is with the greatest pleasure that I present Rosanna Wong Yick-ming for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Social Sciences honoris causa.