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Gordon KING

Doctor of Laws
honoris causa

My first word must be one of thanks to the University on behalf of my fellow graduates Sir Yuet-keung Kan and the Rev. Lu Chen-chung, and myself, for the honour which it has seen fit to bestow upon us this afternoon. We come from three separate professions - law, religion, and medicine, and we have each had long standing relationships with this University. To each of us the degree with which we have been honoured today will have long lasting significance and will give us a memory which we shall come to treasure for a long time to come.

Now that we have progressed from the gerundive state of graduand to become fully fledged honorary graduates of this University we begin to realize the significance of the ceremony which has just taken place.

The Rev. Lu Chen-chung is the senior among us, for he took his first degree in this University in 1922. But the work which he has accomplished since that date almost boggles the imagination. I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we have even read through the whole of the Old Testament, let alone contemplated the magnitude of the work involved in translating it from the original Hebrew into present day colloquial Kuo-yu. And to have undertaken a similar task in relation to the New Testament completes a labour of love which must be quite unique as the accomplishment of one man.

Sir Yuet-keung graduated from this University in 1934 and his achievements since that date, as outline by our Public Orator, have been most outstanding. His post as Chairman of the Council of Chinese University of Hong Kong as well as a member of the Court of this University is one which augurs well for cordial and happy relationships between the two Universities in the days which lie ahead.

My own relationship with this University did not begin until 1938, but I am proud to be able to join with my two distinguished fellow graduates in returning thanks to the University for its decision to honour is at this ceremony today.

This Loke Yew Hall in which we are gathered this afternoon awakens many memories in my mind. I think back to the time, 35 years ago, when I first saw it. It was appreciably smaller than it is now, and its primary purpose, or course, was to provide an appropriate setting for academic functions. But it was also one of the few places in Hong Kong where public meetings or concerts could be held in a dignified atmosphere, and it was very much in demand for such occasions, as well as academic purposes. I particularly remember the concerts which were given in this building by the Sino-British Chamber of Music Club, and the annual Christmas Carol concerts which were put on by the students of the University.

But my most vivid memory of this Hall was in December 1941, when World War II hit this Colony, and the Great Hall, in common with some of the halls of residence, became transformed into an enormous hospital ward, as the University Relief Hospital came into being, in order to receive the overflow of patients from the Queen Mary Hospital. And during the weeks which followed several hundreds of civilian patients were accommodated here in this Hall and in the other University buildings. They were looked after by a volunteer staff of doctors and nurses, including students who acted as dressers, stretcher bearers, and orderlies, until the whole campus was taken over by the Japanese authorities a few weeks after the capture of Hong Kong

University examinations were in progress at the time war broke out, and after the eighteen days of fighting ended one or two underground graduation ceremonies were held for those who had passed their final examinations and the remainder of the students were advised to make their way to China, if possible, and continue their studies there. The prospects looked dark at the time, but, eventually upwards of 350 students, 140 of whom were medicals, were able to act on this advice, and a large proportion of them did indeed finish their studies in Chinese universities.

In August 1945, when the war was over, this Hall had been reduced to its four bare walls open to the sky. The roof beams had all be removed, doors, windows, and floor boards had all gone and the ground was strewn with rubble.

But very shortly afterwards nearly 60 of the medical students who had escaped Hong Kong and completed their medical studies in China, returned to Hong Kong to play their part in the medical rehabilitation of the Colony. And the junior staff positions in the hospitals and clinics, that were rapidly being re-established, were largely filled by these young graduates.

By this time authority had been obtained under the terms of a special Hong Kong University (Medical Degrees) Order in Council, given by His Majesty King George VI, for medical degrees of this University to be awarded to 63 candidates who had complete their studies in China.

And the first post-war use of this Great Hall (as it was then known) was on March 22nd, 1946, when 33 candidates received degrees awarded by the Hong Kong University (Medical Degrees) Emergency Committee.

The congregation took place under the open sky, amid the ruins of the Great Hall, but it was symbolic of the new life which was about to return to the University. Present at the ceremony was His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief of the Military Administration of Hong Kong, Admiral Sir Cecil Harcourt, and the five members of the Medical Degrees Emergency Committee, which consisted of Mr. T.M. Hazelrigg (as Chairman), Colonels J.P. Fehily, L.T. Ride, T.R. Rowell, and myself (then a lieutenant colonel). After the ceremony tea was served to the guests in the ruins of the cloisters - and there are some here today who will still remember the occasion - which heralded the return of academic life to this University.

These are just some of the memories that come back to me as I stand here this afternoon. But some of you may be wondering what it was that brought be back to Hong Kong after an absence of seventeen years.

The answer is that it was an interest which I inherited from the late Professor Nixon, who preceded me in the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at this University. Will Nixon was responsible for founding the Hong Kong Eugenics League away back in 1936 and when I succeeded to the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1938 I also took over his post as Chairman of the League which, in more direct terms, was concerned with introducing the idea of family planning to Hong Kong.

This organization was one of the first of its kind to be established in Asia but, of course, it folded up during World War II. Very soon after the war, however, it was re-established as the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong with the strong support of a number of eminent ladies in the Colony, including an honorary graduate of this University, Dr. The Hon. Ellen Li. Starting with only two clinics in 1951 the work of the Association steadily grew until nine clinics were in operation by 1956, including the newly opened Headquarters Building in Hennessy Road.

Government financial support began with a grant of $5,000 to the Association in 1955 which has steadily increased over the years to a figure of $1,400,000 in 1972.

When I left Hong Kong in 1956 Professor Daphne Chun succeeded me not only in Chair of Obstetrics, but also as President of the Association, and by 1972 the Association was running 56 clinics in all parts of the Colony, including the New Territories and some of the outlying islands.

When Professor Chun retired from the University Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology last year, she was succeeded by Professor H.K. Ma, who has recently assumed the post of Chairman of the Council of the Family Planning Association in succession the Mrs. Veronica Browne. So that there now exists an almost hereditary relationship between the University Department of Obstetrics and the Family Planning Association.

Hong Kong, like Great Britain, has often been criticized by certain world organizations because it has no population policy. In Great Britain recently, the Secretary of State for Social Services, Sir Keith Joseph, came under considerable fire from the Select Committee on Science and Technology because he failed to produce a population policy for their consideration. But his retort was that, until Government decides that there should be a population policy, there would be little point in acting as though there were one.

We are fortunate in Hong Kong that His Excellency the Governor, in his policy statement to the Legislative Council in October of last year, made a special point of mentioning the proposed 'direct participation of the Government Medical Department in Family Planning' activities, for this means that a definite policy in this field is not coming under consideration.

The factor which requires careful consideration is Hong Kong is not so much the annual birth rate, for this has already come down from 35.6 per 1000 in 1962 to 19.7 per 100 in 1972, but it is the size of the completed family which is the critical factor. If an ideal figure of two children per family (with an absolute maximum of three) could be achieved, this would go a long way towards stabilizing the population of the Colony. Progress has already been made in this direction, and there is no doubt that the education level of the parents has a great influence on the size of the family. Recent studies of women who have accepted family planning during the three year period 1969-1971 have shown that in women who have received little or no education the average family size was between four and five children. In those with primary school education there were between two and three children in the family. In those who had received secondary school education the average was below two children per family, and even lower in those who had a university education.

These were not necessarily completed families, of course, but the lesson is obvious. Education is a most important factor in family planning, and now that primary education is locally compulsory, strenuous efforts should be made to see that it is, in fact, available to every child in the Colony. The implication is quite definite, that with increasing educational facilities, and a comprehensive family planning service, an optimum family size of two, or at most three, children could be achieved - and this would go a long way towards solving the population problem which Hong Kong is at present facing.

Future work in the field of family planning in Hong Kong needs all the support it can get - from the Government, from the University, and from all organizations which are working for the betterment and possibly even for the survival of human society in the changing time in which we live.

There is every evidence that Hong Kong is taking its full share in pioneering the movement towards the betterment of the quality of life among the people of South East Asia. Just one year ago an important meeting took place in this University when the Second Commonwealth Conference on Development and Human Ecology discussed the ways and means by which this aim could be achieved. University departments made significant contributions to the proceedings of this Conference, in this way fulfilling one of the wider functions of the University in using its knowledge and research capabilities for the future welfare of mankind.

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