Citations and Speeches


173rd Congregation (2006)

Simon LEE Kwok Yin
MBE, JP, Degree of Doctor of Social Sciences

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

To students, staff, and visitors to the university, Simon K Y Lee is the name of a building. Appropriately it is not a sanctuary of contemplation, and certainly not an ancient monument, but a place of youthful energy and important work. Today we honour the eponym of Simon K Y Lee Hall, a man whose generosity has benefited this university, and whose contributions to Hong Kong are widely recognized.

Born in Hong Kong, Simon Kwok Yin Lee is one of our community's most successful business leaders. His family enterprise, the Sun Hing Group of Companies, is one of Hong Kong's success stories, and has contributed enormously to Hong Kong's development as a major shipping centre and transportation hub between China and the world.

After graduating from St Joseph's College in 1941, Simon Lee at first wanted to pursue further studies in law. When the Second World War came to an end, his father, the late Mr Li Chi Hung, established Sun Hing Hong as a shipping agency, and asked the young Simon Lee to help him. Simon Lee put aside his personal plans in the interest of his family, an early decision that already shows what would become a life-long devotion to the greater good.

When his father passed away in the nineteen sixties, Simon Lee became Head of the family business and restructured it as Sun Hing Shipping Company Ltd. He built up a reputation as a hardworking and dependable operator among a network of associates both in Hong Kong and internationally. His business philosophy of gradual and evolving expansion enabled his company to overcome periods of economic difficulties in Hong Kong. For four decades, under Mr Lee's solid leadership, Sun Hing has grown its core shipping agency business into an enterprise that owns and operates warehouses and transport facilities not only in Hong Kong but also many ports in mainland China. Currently, Mr Lee is also Chairman of Pacific Canadian Investment Holdings Corporation, and Director of Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd. and Wing Hang Bank Ltd.

Of all kinds of business, shipping seems somehow to epitomize the ethos and the fortunes of our city. The sustained performance of the Sun Hing Group exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of Chinese family-run businesses which, through several generations, has helped to build Hong Kong’s economic prosperity in recent times. Simon Lee is very conscious that Hong Kong has provided him and his family with many opportunities, and rewarded his hard work. This entails a responsibility to serve Hong Kong in return, and to meet and fulfill, as best he can, the needs of the community. He has contributed much of his time and expertise to serving the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, and also on a number of government committees dealing with port regulation and development.

Simon Lee's contribution to the community exceeds his service to business and the government, and goes back as far as the nineteen seventies. As a veteran member and former International Director of the Lions Club, he helped to set up the Lions Eye Bank of which he is currently President, an organization which provides free cataract surgery to patients in mainland China. Practical, unostentatious, and vitally useful, the work of the Eye Bank is characteristic of much of what Simon Lee does. He is also past Chairman and current President of Hong Kong Society for the Deaf, Founder and Chairman of the Hong Kong Liver Foundation, and Founding Director and current Honorary Treasurer of the Hong Kong Digestive Foundation. Perhaps in time we can expect him to turn his benevolent attention to the few remaining parts of the body he is not yet looking after.

Simon Lee firmly believes that those who are ill should receive the medical care that would enable them to overcome their afflictions and recover not only their physical strength but their potential as fully contributing members of society. It is this belief which guides his many philanthropic activities. Our university has benefited greatly from Mr Lee's philanthropy. Through the Simon K.Y. Lee Foundation, and as Honorary Founding Patron of the university's Foundation for Educational Development and Research, Mr Lee has donated generously to our Medical Faculty. He has supported the construction of the Faculty of Medicine Building, and an endowed Chair in Gastroenterology. The Hong Kong Liver Foundation, which he chairs, is also closely associated with our Medical Faculty in its mission to save the lives of hepatitis B patients.

In his memoir published in 1999, Mr Lee describes himself as "obstinate in the pursuit of the good" (擇善固執). It is a good motto. This obstinacy is an individual virtue and a social value that the university and the wider community have not only benefited from but would certainly do well to follow as an example. Mr Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to present Simon Kwok-yin Lee for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa.