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Mrs Ellen LI Shu Pui

Doctor of Laws
honoris causa

It is with great humility that I stand here before you to say a few words on behalf of my fellow graduands to express our appreciation and gratitude for the high honour the University has conferred on us this afternoon. I feel particularly honoured to be one of the recipients of the honorary degrees from this great University. I presume that because I am the least qualified among my fellow graduands I am given what I consider to be a difficult task of making a reply. Before such a distinguished audience, I feels so very inadequate and at a loss for words to express the feeling of exultation and bewilderment which perhaps only Cinderella, if she was a real person instead of a fairy-tale character, would understand when she found herself amongst the princes and princesses in the palace.

Everyone of my fellow graduands is a person of great distinction and achievement in his or her own field. We have among us for the first time a woman of letters, a world renowned author in the person of Miss Murdoch, a man of science and great educator in Dr. James Matheson, two financial experts in the Hon. Kenneth Fung Ping-fan and the Hon. John Saunders, and three highly respected community leaders in Mr. Lee Iu Cheung, The Hon. Dhun Ruttonjee, and Dr. F.I. Tseung.

While in search of an excuse and justification of my being here from the academic point of view, I came across some interesting definitions on the educated man. John Ruskin once said: 'The entire object of education is to make people not merely do the things right but to enjoy the right things, not merely industrious but to love industry, not merely learned but to love knowledge, not merely pure but to love purity, not merely just but to hunger and thirst after justice'. Some have said that a well-educated man should know something of everything and everything of something. Still others have said that an educated man is one who finally renders the best service to his fellow men. Obviously I do not qualify under any of these definitions because I do not know much about anything and though I have rendered 'my best' service to my fellow men, 'my best' is not necessarily 'the best'.

I have for the past thirty years devoted myself to the improvement of the status of women, a higher standard of living for every family through family planning, and the service of the youth of Hong Kong.

During the Human Rights Year in 1968 all member countries of the United Nations jointly proclaimed that there should be no discrimination between the sexes, races and creeds. This University in 1921 opened its doors to women, thus giving equality to women in education. And because of this, the status of women has been greatly elevated. Since then, women have trained in this University, have done well in their professions, especially in the fields of medicine and education. They have served society well and have done credit to this University. Two years ago in 1967 I noticed that out of eight graduands receiving post-graduate doctorate degrees, five were women. Today the University has opened another door for local women to receive honorary degrees. We have still a long way to go in many aspects of social reform but we look on this University as the seat of higher learning to lead and guide the thinking of the community toward the elimination of all forms of social injustice against any one section of our society.

Hong Kong's problem of people is not so much the question of population explosion in its general sense but the welfare of the individual family in relation to the number of children they can afford to support and care for. Family planning service is therefore the obvious solution. In this field of socio-medical service, this University has always been the guiding spirit behind the movement, since it has always been the Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology who served as President of the Family Planning Association. In 1936, it was Professor Nixon who started the first family planning clinic and was the first of its kind in South-East Asia. Professor Gordon Kind succeeded him in this capacity; and took over the task of guiding the Association in its work to bring down the birth-rate from 38 to 21 per thousand within the last eight years. These indirect but obvious contributions of the University and its personnel toward community development and social improvement must not be overlooked.

For the past two decades the emphasis on youth service had been accentuated on their formal education and until recently on technical and vocational training. My special interest in youth for the past thirty years has been on another aspect of their education: the training of leadership and good citizenship, the better use of leisure time, the elevation of moral standards and the right attitude toward life and society. It is in group activities provided by organizations such as the Y.M.C.A. that our youngsters learn to conduct their own meetings, plan their own programmes of activity and discuss their own problems. Many young leaders are discovered and trained this way. Community service programmes provide a personal insight into social problems, a spirit of concern and service for others and a sense of responsibility toward the society. All in all, these youth programmes have guided hundreds of thousands of young people to become better persons, better leaders and more responsible citizens. Dr. Frederick Mayer once said that a man is well educated when he knows how to live as an individual and as groups.

In recent weeks, active discussions have been taking place within and without the University campus in relation to a challenge on the justification of the existence of the University, the quality of the students and their participation in University and community affairs. The fact that the students have stood up in their own defence indicates their capability of active thinking and genuine concern of their own affairs. I am sure that the students, if left alone, will be able to formulate in due course some sensible and constructive proposals for improvements in the University after the due process of group discussions within the Student's Union in an atmosphere of serenity and rational thinking. No doubt much useful purpose can be achieved this way. The experience is, I consider, and essential part of university education and through it all there will develop a sense of value and purpose. The value of the University of Hong Kong has been convincingly demonstrated by the active participation of the graduates in the development of the community. We only have to look around us to realize how many men and women holding important and leading positions in all branches of social services, especially in the medical, education, and civil service, in industries and commerce are graduates of the University.

Several of my fellow graduands were born and educated in Hong Kong which is their home and to which they rightfully belong. They have contributed a great deal to Hong Kong and in return had their share of Hong Kong's troubles and prosperity. I belong to Hong Kong because Hong Kong is my home by adoption and choice, for forty years. Today, I have been given an addition attachment to my Hong Kong identity in being a graduate of this University. Now my sense of belonging is complete! Mr. Chancellor, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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