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Mrs LEE Yick Hoi-lun Helen

84th Congregation (2017)

Mrs LEE Yick Hoi-lun Helen

Doctor of Social Science


As Liu Xiang of the Western Han Dynasty wrote in Garden of Stories, those who do good never ask for anything in return, and those who are beneficiaries never forget to return goodness.  One of Hong Kong's notable charitable foundations has operated under this philosophy for decades, making generous donations to help the needy and poor, and benefiting countless numbers of people across the city.  From Hong Kong to Kaiping, Shanghai and Beijing, with efforts ranging from establishing schools and medical services to donating generously to disaster relief, this foundation has devoted itself to help poor students and victims of diseases and illnesses to relieve their hardship.  ‘Wei Lun Foundation Limited’ was founded by and named after the late Dr the Honourable Sir Lee Quo Wei, a Hong Kong dignitary and Grand Bauhinia Medallist, and his wife Mrs Lee Yick Hoi-lun Helen, the very accomplished philanthropist here on our stage today.

Mrs Lee Yick Hoi-lun Helen and Dr Lee Quo Wei were married in 1947.  For over 60 years, the couple enjoyed a harmonious marriage full of respect and support.  As a prominent figure in Hong Kong's political, economic and educational sectors for over half a century, Dr Lee made great contributions to the city.  After joining Hang Seng Bank in 1946, he helped the institution thrive by introducing retail banking services to the masses.  In 1969, the bank debuted the Hang Seng Index, which has remained a key stock market index of Hong Kong's economy.  In 1983, as a member of the Executive Council, he was very much involved in establishing the Linked Exchange Rate System, which helped stabilise the economy and maintain Hong Kong's currency during its critical period of financial development.  The system pegged the Hong Kong dollar against the US dollar at HK$7.80, a fixed rate that has been maintained to date.  The next year, after becoming the first Chairman of the Education Commission, he devoted himself to drawing up a master plan for the city's tertiary education.  After the Stock Market Crash of 1987, when the then Governor Sir David Wilson decided to reform the stock market based on the recommendations of the Ian Hay Davison Report, Dr Lee assisted by restructuring the HKEX and serving as its president, a move that helped the stock market rebuild confidence.  In 1993, as a member of the Exchange Fund Advisory Committee of the newly established Hong Kong Monetary Authority, he offered his wisdom and insight to guide the development of the city's financial services.  Throughout his half-century career, he won the respect of all sectors in the community by dedicating himself to the city's future, and to helping the city recover from multiple financial crises.  His contributions were immeasurable.  But his wife is a woman of equally impressive character who provided Dr Lee with tremendous support and took good care of their family.  When Dr Lee suffered from a stroke in his later years, Mrs Lee spared no effort in looking after him.  Her determination and perseverance deserve the highest regard.  Over their decades together, the venerable Lees were a paragon of marital devotion, supporting each other through success and adversity.

In 1989, the Lees established Wei Lun Foundation Limited, of which Mrs Lee now serves as Chairman.  One of the Foundation's primary focuses has always been education, and it has made enormous donations to institutions of higher education to support their scientific research, campus, and educational development.  Its beneficiaries include The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hang Seng Management College, Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, and Tsinghua University, among others.  The foundation has also made contributions to help the construction and development of Wuyi University and more than 70 primary and secondary schools, and has donated to more than 100 cultural and educational projects in Wuyi, Jiangmen, Dr Lee's hometown.  In addition, the Lees have paid close attention to mainland China's development.  Through the Foundation, they financially supported local infrastructure, education, and healthcare facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kaiping and Jiangmen, including the large and well-equipped Kaiping Central Hospital.  In 1994, the Lees joined together with Dr S. H. Ho, Dr Leung Kau-kui, and Dr Ho Tim to establish the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation, which recognises outstanding scientists in mainland China who have reached the top international academic levels.  Since its inception, the foundation has honoured many Chinese scientists, helping to propel the mainland's scientific development forward.

Over the years, the Lees maintained a long and close association with CUHK.  Dr Lee played an active role in CUHK right from the University's planning stages.  In 1963, he was appointed Founding Treasurer of CUHK by the government.  In his 20-year tenure in this position, he laid a solid foundation for the institution and profoundly impacted its development.  From 1982 to 1997, Dr Lee served as Chairman of the University Council.  Under his leadership, the University quickly developed into one of the city's major educational institutions, paving a prosperous path for the University to soar to new heights.  For more than half a century, the Lees went hand-in-hand with CUHK.  Their continuous support and remarkable contributions to this University will always be remembered.

The Lees have earnestly promoted CUHK's academic and research development.  For years, they sponsored many academic projects to benefit the University, including the Wei Lun Visiting Professorship Programme, Wei Lun Professorship in various disciplines and Lee Quo Wei Professor of Neurology, as well as the establishment of such facilities as Lee Shu Pui Hall at Chung Chi College, the Lee Quo Wei Law Library, the G. H. Choa Cardiovascular Centre, the CUHK-PWH Lee Quo Wei Cardiovascular Intervention Centre, and Lee Quo Wei Hall at S. H. Ho College.  Meanwhile, to encourage students' development, the couple established multiple financial aid and international exchange scholarships.  As CUHK celebrated its 50th anniversary, Mrs Lee made another generous donation in 2012 to set up the ‘Lee Quo Wei CUHK Golden Jubilee Scholarship Endowment Fund’ for assistance to students who excel.  Over the past fifty years, CUHK has continuously advanced its research and academic standards among the international academic community, thanks in part to the Lees' generous support. CUHK's teachers and students are greatly indebted to their contributions.

Over the years, Dr Lee received numerous honorary degrees from many local and overseas institutions, and the Lees were awarded honorary citizenships by a number of cities and provincial governments in mainland China.  Their philanthropy and prominent contributions also won them an award for their outstanding contribution for the promotion of Kaiping.  In addition, Mrs Lee had conferred upon her an Honorary Fellowship of Hang Seng Management College this past May.

Mr Chairman, on behalf of countless beneficiaries, let us express our greatest gratitude to Mrs Lee, a benevolent woman and life-long philanthropist who has made enormous, selfless contributions to education in our country and Hong Kong.  It gives me great pleasure to present to you Mrs Lee Yick Hoi-lun Helen for the award of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.