Citations and Speeches


Congregation (1951)

Sir LO Man Kam

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Lindsay Tasman Ride, C.B.E., E.D., M.A., D.M., B.CH., LL.D., wrote and delivered the following citation:

Mr. Chancellor, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Whether it be justified or not, the prophetic warning and unfortunate experience of Julius Caesar have vested not only the Ides, but the month of March itself with a lasting, sinister reputation; but it would appear that Caesar’s fears have never been shared by the powers controlling the destiny of this University It would be interesting to speculate on what our history might have been, had these early powers not been mundane medicals, had they been of the finer clay which produces Historians and men well versed in the Arts.

With, shall we say, commendable contempt for historical warnings, March was chosen for the laying of the Foundation Stone of this building in 1910: the following year – just forty years ago today – the University was officially founded on the 16th of March, and again, two weeks later – still in the month of March – the University was incorporated by Ordinance.

In 1912, the 11th March witnessed the official opening of the University by Sir Frederick Lugard, as the commemorative stone at the foot of the stairs leading into this Hall bears lasting witness.

Today, to this long list we add yet another March, made memorable by three significant events.

Since writing that I have been made to realize what a grave mistake it is to fail to make use of the topic of weather as an opening gambit in a speech as well as in conversation. Hong Kong’s weather has taken umbrage and I am forced to make humble amends. Today’s Congregation has been made memorable on four counts. First and foremost, our weather. This morning’s fog prevented the landing of the ‘plane bearing our guest of honour, and in the faint hope that it would make it possible for him to attend, we had to postpone this Congregation from 3.30 to 4.30. I apologise for the inconvenience I know this must have caused you all.

Next it will be my pleasurable duty in a few minutes to ask the Chancellor to confer our highest academic honour on the Right Honourable Malcolm MacDonald, His Majesty’s Commissioner General for South East Asia. If you care to look at our list of Honorary Graduates, you will see the names of many worthy and famous men, but you will find none so worthy on so many counts as the name of Malcolm MacDonald; on the academic side he is a link between the old and the new, for he is a graduate of one of the oldest of our British Universities, the University of Oxford, and at the same time, the Chancellor of the Youngest, the University of Malaya; being the worthy son of a worthy father has not influenced one way or the other his outstanding successes; his service and his attainments in his chosen profession are wholly due to his own outstanding ability, his human approach to his fellow men and his sympathetic understanding of their problems and their aspirations. Whether with the legislative walls of Westminster or in the new-world democracy of Canada, or at the caldron from which we confidently hope and pray will emerge a peaceful and progressive South East Asia, he has served his country and humanity with fervour, with humility and with honour.

This Congregation is also important because today we similarly honour a leader of a lesser state but a statesman of no lesser caliber; Sir Man-Kam Lo of Hong Kong. This University cannot claim the honour of having played any part in his professional training which led to his being awarded First Class Honours in the Law Society Examinations in London, but the Colony can claim the honour of being his birth place, for it was in this city he was born and it is to the people of this Colony that he has dedicated his life of public service. In view of his illustrious service to the Colony in general and to the University in particular, we today with pride and with pleasure add his name also to our list of honorary graduates.

The third point of significance about today’s Congregation is that the Hall around you and the mace before you both proclaim that the active stage of our post-war regeneration has now really begun.

Regarding the Hall, I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the Professor of Architecture, the Associated architect Mr. George Hall, and the Contractors Winsome and Company, for the admirable way that they have pushed on the preliminary work of restoration in order that you may sit here today in surroundings more congenial than those of last year when you suffered so stoically and for so long, the discomfort of the ruined Hall and then tortures of our winter weather. Today we are doubly fortunate; you sit in comparative comfort, the weather- God, though fickle, has been kinder.

The Hall is by no means yet finished and many of the fittings are but temporary, but the work thus far completed reveals the fact that it is the intention of the Council and our Department of Architecture to produce new University buildings worthy of this lovely city and it keeping with their comparable surroundings; it is important that our buildings and the compound in which they are set should instill a sense of pride not only in the members of the University but also in the citizens of the Colony; this sense of pride should prove an added incentive for us to match the standard of our attainments and our served with that of the accommodation which the public purse has so generously provided.

Another example of a beautifully appointed building you will see when Lady Grantham has opened the Lady Ho Tung Hall later this afternoon; our women undergraduates are indeed fortunate in being able to live and work in such comfortable and pleasant, almost palatial, surroundings. I believe it has already had a disturbing effect on the men who are fast becoming house-conscious and envious, and it has, at the same time, also disclosed a new aspect of the age-old problem of inequality of the sexes!

This benefaction from Sir Robert Ho Tung has been referred to on a previous occasion, but I cannot let this opportunity pass without stressing again our gratitude made all the more pleasing by the knowledge that his donation of one million dollars to the University has not affected his continuous stream of contributions to the poor and needy of the Colony. To his lasting praise, this stream flows unabated, and we in the University consider ourselves very fortunate that Sir Robert should extend his generosity to us in this magnificent fashion.

For the new mace we are indebted to the munificence of Mr. Leung Yew who immediately after the last Congregation came forward and offered to cover the cost of its manufacture. During tea this afternoon I hope all of you will take the opportunity of examining the mace, and although it still lacks its jade ornaments, I am sure you will agree that it is an outstanding example of British craftsmanship; combining as it does, oriental history through the medium of occidental art, it is a fitting emblem to symbolize the supreme authority of a British University set beside a China sea.

On the shaft of the mace you will see four panels; on one is embossed a scene of early Hong Kong, on another a picture of this building as it was last year; the third bears an inscription recording the munificence of Mr. Leung Yew and the fourth remains empty and on it later is hoped to depict the main building as it will be when completed. On the obverse of the head of the mace is the Colony Coat of Arms, an on the reverse that of the University, both beautifully embossed, a significant reminder that we are an integral part of the Colony.

Last year I put to you the case for a British University in Hong Kong. Since then I have heard the cogency of the argument admitted on many sides, but I have also heard the question raised, “What service does the University render the Colony in return for the public and private money spent on it?” I don’t intend to answer the ethical side of that question today, or to deal with the obvious advantage it is to the Colony that the responsibility for the higher education of its young people should rest in its own hands; we have only to look at the history of totalitarian countries during the last generation to realize the magnitude of that advantage; but I do want to consider for a few moments the economic side, an aspect which I hope will appeal to the practical business man of this Colony.

In July last year a simple, unostentatious but significant ceremony was performed at the Tsan Yuk Hospital by the Director of Medical and Health Services Dr. Isaac Newton. It was this; a small inscribed silver bowl was presented to one of Hong Kong’s poor because she happened to be the Mother of the 50,000th baby delivered by the University Obstetrical Unit since it was organized. Each year now the University gives to over 5,000 of the poorest of the poor mothers in this Colony, the best advice, attention and care that medical science in this part of the world can provide. In addition to this obstetrical care, it provides ante- and post-natal attention for over six thousand women each year, treats about two thousand out-patient cases and performs about one thousand gynaecological operations. This argument could be amplified by quoting the large numbers of cases dealt with by our Surgical, Medical and Pathology Departments and by reference to our consulting services to the more well to-do patients of the Colony.

These services alone would cost the community many hundreds of thousands of dollars annually had they to be provided through other channels, and they form but a fraction of what the University does for the Colony in the field of medicine. In this connection it would be unjust if we claim all the credit for the University, and if we did not acknowledge the part played in all this work by the Hong Kong Government; for it must be emphasized that we are not a Government institution, and not being in the fortunate position of most other medical schools who have their own hospitals, we have to depend on Government hospitals for our teaching facilities without which most of our public medical services just referred to would not be possible. I should like here to take this opportunity of stressing with gratification and pleasure the close co-operation and mutual good-will that exists between Government Departments in the fields of Public Works, Education, Social Services, Architecture and Gardens as well as Medicine, and their sister departments in the University.

There are yet other services we render which, while not so readily translated into dollars and cents, are nevertheless just as valuable. In addition to doctors, University graduates including teachers, economists, lawyers, engineers and business me. Have you ever thought how much it would cost the Colony – either directly of indirectly – to send all these people abroad for their professional education?

Nor is the value of post-graduate education to be forgotten. We are providing Diploma courses in Social Studies and in Education, and each year post-graduate courses are given in one or another of the medical clinical sciences and recently our Department of Engineering has run a post-graduate course at which over 100 engineers of the Colony have been attending. Our fee for this course is $25: would anyone care to estimate its worth to the engineering profession of the Colony?

In the senior staff we have a body of men of recognized status in their professions; they owe no allegiance to any vested interest, their professional opinions are not swayed by the official views of Government; they are a body of men intellectually independent, whose services are at the disposal of the community on whatever boards or committee they may be required, and it is very gratifying to us to see how much in these post-war years these services have been solicited. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” I shall answer the modern and local version of that old taunt by one statement. The Royal College of Surgeons of England honours the memory of one of the world’s greatest eighteenth century anatomists and surgeons, John Hunter, by appointing Hunterian Professors each to deliver a lecture on his special contribution to the advancement of the science of surgery. One of those chosen this year is the Professor of Surgery of this University, and this November Professor Stock, to whom we offer our heartiest congratulations, goes to London to deliver his lecture before the Royal College of Surgeons on “The Surgical Treatment of Cirrhosis of the Liver”. To sum up – the function of a University does not begin and end with the ringing of a lecture bell or the posting of degree examination results; should you try to evaluate its services by a profit and loss account, or to estimate its efficiency by the total expenditure per student, you are neglecting the consideration of those ancillary yet important functions which characterize a vital university. These functions the University of Hong Kong does not neglect.

May I now just say one word to the graduands. You have finished your course; you have satisfied your examiners. In what way are you going to use your talents? Advice this year regarding that problem is easy to give because I venture to predict you will remember this 16th of March 1951 not merely because it was the day on which you took your degrees, but because it was the on which you graduated in company with two famous men. A generation ago they too satisfied their examiners, but that was not the end of their striving, their learning, or their serving in the University of life – and that is the larger meaning of the word – in life universal they have satisfied their fellow men. May you continue to strive, may you continue to learn, and each in your own profession according to your own talents, may you continue to serve as did your fellow senior graduands, Malcolm MacDonald and Lo Man-kam.

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