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Doctor LEUNG Nai-pang Norman

92nd Congregation (2023)

Doctor LEUNG Nai-pang Norman

Doctor of Social Science


In the chapter Yong Ye of the Analects of Confucius, there is the saying, “If you desire to establish yourself, you should also help others establish themselves. If you desire to rise to eminence, you should also help others rise to greater heights.” This means that when one wishes to strive for advancement in life, one should not forget that he also has an obligation to help those who have the same aspiration. Similarly, when one has attained success and become distinguished in society, one should also endeavour to help those who are still attempting to broaden their horizons. The above are not just fine attributes but the righteous quality of an honourable person who, having possessed the means to help others, always uses it generously to help the younger generation and the underprivileged to brave adversity and turn their life around. These good deeds require not only great empathy for people, but also a sense of moral rectitude that brings light into the world and hope for a new day.

Dr Norman Leung Nai-pang was born to a well-off family in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. His family moved to Hong Kong after 1949 but unfortunately, the family’s fortune gradually made a downturn and they finally settled down in Cheung Chau. The young Dr Leung attended Hanchuan Primary School and then Cheung Chau Government Primary School. However, he had to drop out of school at the age of 12, due to financial hardship, and worked as a waiter at the Gloucester Hotel in Central to support his family. Dr Leung understood that even when one was in distress, he must not give up but should, instead, move forward to brave the storm. While at work, he continued to take up part-time studies. He knew well that English would be his life buoyancy and, with determination and perseverance, he took every possible opportunity to practise English through talking to foreign guests in the hotel. At the same time, he set his mind on returning to school later. In 1960, he got himself admitted, as a mature student at the age of 20, to Form Three of King’s College, a prestigious government-run secondary school in Hong Kong. In the chapter Xue Ji of the Book of Rites, there is a saying,“Attending school after having passed the due study period will make learning much more difficult.” That, obviously, does not apply to the talented Dr Leung, who, determined to turn a new lease of life, completed his secondary education with flying colours. In 1965, he was admitted to HKU to pursue studies in economics and political science. After graduation, he went to the United Kingdom to pursue post-graduate studies at the College of Law at Guildford. Having passed the Solicitors’ Final Examination there in 1970, he joined Woodhouse-Smith & Co., a law firm in the UK, as trainee solicitor. After the statutory two-year articleship, he became a qualified solicitor, just four years after he graduated from HKU. In 1972, he returned to Hong Kong and joined Hastings & Co. Two years later, he moved to Woo and Woo Solicitors and became its partner, thus commencing a long and stellar legal career for 22 years. During this period, the business of the law firm, under Dr Leung’s stewardship, grew and achieved fame, with the number of employees rising from 20 plus to 120. For his professional eminence and social standing, he was appointed member of the Council of the then newly founded City Polytechnic of Hong Kong (later City University of Hong Kong [CityU]) in 1985. From 1997 to 2003, he served as Chairman of the Council. Two years after he retired from the Council chairmanship, he was appointed the Pro-Chancellor of CityU. Throughout his 18 years of service on the CityU Council, he guided the institution to rise from a humble beginning to a world renowned institution of higher education. For his long and outstanding contributions to CityU and society at large, he was conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by CityU in 2004. In 2016, Dr Leung became Council Chairman of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since assuming that role, Dr Leung had been actively involved in forging a solid foundation for various educational and research endeavours of the University. From being a hotel waiter to a lawyer, and from a young boy who dropped out of school to the council chairmanship of two local universities, Dr Leung reminisced about his past with fondness, saying, “The reason I was able to overcome difficulties in my early life was that I wouldn’t give up. I firmly believe that a good education for all is essential for society to advance and prosper.” With this firm belief, he has repeatedly encouraged students to stay positive and strong when facing adversity, because there is always a rainbow after a storm.

After his luminous legal career, Dr Leung made a change in his career path and stepped into the business world, achieving similar dazzling success. After leaving Woo and Woo, he held various senior executive and directorship positions in a number of local renowned listed companies, including among others, Deputy Chairman of Kowloon Motor Bus Holdings Limited, Director of Wing Lung Bank Limited, and Executive Chairman of Television Broadcasts Limited. Currently, he serves as Chairman and Independent Non-Executive Director of Transport International Holdings Limited, Kowloon Motor Bus (1933) Limited, and Long Win Bus Company Limited. He is also an Independent Non-Executive Director of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited and Nan Fung Group (Holdings) Limited. With visionary insight and shrewd investment knowledge, Dr Leung brings to the corporations he serves not only his legal expertise but also his supreme management prowess earned through decades of hard work. No wonder, he is well respected in the business circle and a trusted “general” in the corporate world.

Having achieved incredible success, Dr Leung is committed to serving society by helping others and promoting the general welfare of Hong Kong and beyond. Over the past half century, he has been actively making meaningful contributions to public affairs. For his sharp-wit and civic character, he was appointed to a number of statutory positions, including Commissioner of the Civil Aid Service, Chairman of the Broadcasting Authority, and member of the Electoral Affairs Commission, University Grants Committee, Housing Authority, and Advisory Committee on Post-office Employment for Former Chief Executives and Politically Appointed Officials. Dr Leung thoroughly grasps the importance of education and one’s social responsibility. Mencius once said, “Through ethics and moral education will all appreciate the essence of filial piety and brotherhood.” In accordance with the teachings, Dr Leung returned to his hometown Dongguan to help set up the Dongguan Polytechnic (DP) in his role as Vice-Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the institution. DP commenced operation in 1989 and henceforth has been providing the much needed higher education opportunities for aspiring students in the neighbourhood, and making important contributions to the city. Furthermore, he made generous donations to establish a kindergarten and a primary school in Jintai Village of Dongguan. Moreover, Dr Leung also contributed funds to rebuild two primary schools in Dingxi City, Gansu Province. For his philanthropic acts, these schools after refurbishment were named after Dr. Leung’s parents. The virtue of filial piety and family congeniality is evident in Dr Leung’s endowment, which benefits thousands of children in the remote areas of Gansu, and allows them to study in a positive school environment. The good deed has helped the children alleviate poverty and reshape their destiny. Dr Leung has also sponsored over a hundred underprivileged village students to continue their secondary education in the town, some of whom finally completed university education. His good deeds in society, particularly in the field of education, has reached far and wide, benefiting numerous students and making positive impacts in his motherland. For all that he did, he gained respect both in Hong Kong and mainland China.

In 2015, Dr Leung started his association with CUHK, first as a member of its Council. A year later, he was appointed Chairman of the Council, until he stepped down in 2022. During his tenure, he made all-out efforts in making fruitful dialogues with all stakeholders of the University, including staff, students and alumni societies, all for the good of the institution. As Council Chair, he played a vital leadership role in fostering a number of strategic developments of the University. With his perceptive vision and shrewd guidance, he mustered the strength of faculty and students to help the University reach new frontiers in teaching, research and community service. Under Dr Leung’s stewardship, the state-of-theart CUHK Medical Centre officially opened in 2021, providing high-quality healthcare services for the community, the impact of which was keenly appreciated during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic period. The Medical Centre shoulders the important public health responsibilities such as administering vaccination programmes and receiving patient referrals from public hospitals. It supported the Hospital Authority’s Public-Private Partnership Programme by expanding healthcare service, providing choices for the general public, and alleviating the heavy burden on public hospitals.

The University recently rolled out its Strategic Plan 2021-2025, outlining its development blueprint. The Plan delivers a clear roadmap that will guide the University further in fulfilling our vision in achieving “excellence with purpose and responsibility”, as it carries out the role of a civic university that contributes to Hong Kong, our country, the region and the rest of the world. It covers key development areas including research and innovation, student experience, global engagement, talent attraction and development, and social responsibility. The Plan also attempts to reach out to, and rally support from, alumni worldwide. As Council Chairman, Dr Leung carefully steered the drafting of the Strategic Plan, providing valuable guidance and input. Moreover, he strenuously supported the implementation of the University’s “Policy on Diversity and Inclusion”, which commits us to fostering an atmosphere of openness, respect, empathy and inclusivity; and respecting individual differences, thereby upholding the University motto “Through learning and temperance to virtue”. During his tenure, Dr. Leung also helped set up six InnoHK research centers at CUHK covering, inter alia, health, biomedicine, robotics and artificial intelligence, thereby making meaningful contributions to the Hong Kong innovation agenda; and showcasing the University’s latest knowledge transfer endeavours, while at the same time enhancing the University image and benefiting society.

A man of high integrity and moral standards, Dr Leung has made notable contributions to both the legal and business sectors in Hong Kong. He has also played a defining role in the local higher education sector. His acts of civic engagement have benefited not only Hong Kong but the nation as a whole, helping people to pursue their dreams. In recognition of his distinguished achievements, Dr Leung has been honoured with titles including Justice of the Peace, the Gold Bauhinia Star, and Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Let us join hands together today to pay tribute to Dr Leung, a highly regarded professional, Hong Kong’s venerable community leader and a longstanding friend of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Mr. Chairman, it is my honour and privilege to present to you Dr. Norman Leung Nai-pang for the award of the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa.