70th Congregation (2011)
Mr. LEE Woo-sing
Mr Lee Woo-sing is a universally revered figure in the finance industry of Hong Kong. He was native to Ningpo in Zhejiang but born in Shanghai in 1928. He came to Hong Kong in 1950 and joined Shun Loong Company, which was set up by veteran financiers from Shanghai. In 1958, Shun Loong’s owner passed away, leaving the company to his unenthusiastic successors. Mr Lee and several colleagues pooled their money and bought out the company, turning it gradually from a gold trader into a business of securities, futures, bullion, and foreign exchange trading. The company has expanded over the years and become a very established local finance group. Mr Lee is currently Chairman of the Grand Finance Group and Grand Investment International Limited, and Financial Consultant of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society and Permanent Honorary Advisor of The Institute of Securities Dealers Limited. He had also been an honorary consultant of the Hong Kong Stockbrokers Association, which is now the Hong Kong Securities Association, and a founding committee member of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited. His contributions to making Hong Kong an international financial centre are enormous.
As life is full of ups and downs, what one may achieve, in most cases, depends on how much efforts one has made. Mr Lee Woo-sing was born to a well-to-do family, which had fallen on hard times. As the eldest son, Mr Lee had to find a job and support the family at the age of 14, working as an apprentice in a big traditional finance firm in Shanghai. He was diligent and reliable, and had a good memory for numbers, which enabled him to gain the confidence of his employer, who later financed him to start a business of his own. But it was a turbulent time, and eventually Mr Lee had to give up his thriving business. He came to Hong Kong and started all over again. In time, he built up his business and earned among his clients and fellow practitioners in the finance industry a good reputation with his integrity, trustworthiness, and his watchword of ‘preferring receiving unjust treatment to giving it’.
In October 1987, stock markets around the world crashed. Hong Kong was no exception and the market was suspended for four days. When major banks around the world refused to lend, capital flows came to a halt. Shun Loong had a colossal amount of arrears to be paid off by clients but a huge payment to be cleared within days. At an emergency meeting of the company, Mr Lee was the only one who disagreed that nothing could be done to reverse the situation. He insisted that the company’s goodwill was priceless; the payment therefore must be made on time. He was confident that the clients, who were also victims, would eventually fulfill their obligations. Mr Lee even shouldered the responsibility himself. He emptied his purse, selling all his stocks at a low price, and even mortgaged the properties of his sons and daughters. At the end, with the help of friends, he managed to pull through. Mr Lee still regards the 1987 crisis as the biggest challenge in his life but does not regret making the decision at that time. He lost money but upheld integrity.
After 70 years in the finance industry, Mr Lee Woo-sing has experienced and seen everything. In his leisure, he is keen on activities that cultivate his temperament. He and his wife are Peking Opera aficionados, both as audience and performers. They are well-known amateur opera artists and have participated in many public performances on the mainland and in Hong Kong. Mr Lee can sing exceptionally in the rich and mellifluous vocal style of the famous performer Qiu Shengrong. He is also a master player of the jinghu, the leading stringed instrument of the Opera. Mr Lee is enthusiastic in promoting the performing arts. He sponsored the setting up of the China Youth Peking Opera Art Troupe in 1994 and has actively arranged for the troupe’s performances on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Mr Lee is Honorary Director of the China Jingju (Peking Opera) Art’s Fund and Honorary President of Mei Lan Fang Jingju (Peking Opera) Art’s Fund. He was granted the Golden Chrysanthemum Award in 1995 by the Ministry of Culture for his eminent contributions to Peking Opera.
Mr Lee Woo-sing carries a brilliant portfolio of public and social services. He had served as Member of the Selection Committee for the First and Second HKSAR Government and is Permanent Honorary President and Honorary Founding President of the Shanghai Fraternity Association of Hong Kong, Director of the Kiangsu, Chekiang and Shanghai Residents (Hong Kong) Association, Honorary President of the United Zhejiang Residents Association (Hong Kong) and Ning Po Residents Association (Hong Kong), as well as Director of the Qin Jia Yuan Foundation. Mr Lee is also Member of the China National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation and Financial Securities Advisor and Honorary Citizen of Tianjin Municipality. Mr Lee is an active promoter of China’s higher education and has financed Zhejiang University to found the Lee Woo-sing Research Center for Economics and Culture. He is Honorary Professor of Zhejiang University and Huazhong University of Science & Technology, a Member of the Board of Director of Fudan Univeristy, and Honorary Member of the Executive Committee of Tongji Univesity in Shanghai.
For years, Mr Lee Woo-sing has been a staunch supporter of the Chinese University. In 1993, Mr Lee joined hands with other directors of the Shanghai Fraternity Association to help establish the Shanghai Fraternity Association Research Services Centre at the Chinese University. In 1997, He was invited to join the Board of Trustees of Shaw College, and later that year, financed the College to set up the Lee Woo-sing Self-Learning Resource Centre, which was converted into the Lee Woo-sing Hong Kong History Resource Centre with another generous donation from him in 2007. Mr Lee became the First Vice-Chairman of the College Board in 2008. Mr Lee has made notable contributions to the Chinese University, and served as Member of the University Council since 1999 and Member of the Council’s Executive Committee since 2004. His care and concern for the mainland students at the Chinese University are well known, as could be seen in his strong support of the launching of the ‘Home in Hong Kong’ programme and the founding of the Mainland Undergraduate Association. He has also made great effort to promote the establishment of ‘Project Sunrise’, which aims at helping graduates to begin their careers on the mainland. In 2005, the University awarded Mr Lee the title of Honorary Fellow for his outstanding contributions to society and the University. In 2007, Dr Li Wo-hing, Mr Lee’s brother, made a magnanimous donation to the Chinese University and founded a new College, which was named after Mr Lee Woo-sing in honour of his long-term commitment to the advancement of public welfare and education. Mr Lee has given his consent to serve as a member on the planning committee of the new College. Mr Lee values education beyond all things as he was deprived of the opportunity to receive formal schooling when young. He believes that education injects human capital into a nation or community. It is therefore of top priority to improve the quality of education for the nation to be strong and the community to thrive. A man of modesty and magnanimity, Mr Lee is well educated in the way of the world. He is a distinguished entrepreneur, financial and community leader, an enthusiast of the arts and promoter of education, his relation with the Chinese University is long and strong. Mr Chancellor, may I present to you Mr Lee Woo-sing for the award of the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.