August 18, 2011
Vice Premier Mr Li Keqiang,
Minister of Education Mr Yuan Guiren,
Members of the HKU Family,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
And, on behalf of The University of Hong Kong, I would like to welcome you to the University this morning and, at the same time, thank you for coming to celebrate with us the University’s Centenary.
The last century has witnessed tremendous changes in Hong Kong, China and around the world, be it technological, economical, social or political.
The University has also moved with the times over the past 100 years and evolved from an institute with only three areas of studies to a comprehensive university of many disciplines. As members of the international academe, we share the global challenges at the forefront of higher education developments.
Indeed, the birth of this first and foremost University was an important part of the history of Hong Kong and China. It was the result of the combined efforts of the two governments, in Hong Kong and in Canton (now Guangdong),despite the rather delicate Sino-British relations in the last years of the Qing Dynasty. It could have been an impossible dream, had it not been for those who believed in the need for a university in Hong Kong and the generosity of those who wished to see one built for China and the world.
The University of Hong Kong was formally established in 1911; however, it has been a constant debate among our alumni and the community at large as to whether the University should be dated back to 1887, the year when the College of Medicine for Chinese was established in Hong Kong. Adding to this debate was the famous quote from Dr Sun Yat-sen, one of the first graduates of the College: He said, “I feel as though I have returned home because Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong are the birthplace of my knowledge.” That was what Dr Sun told the students in this great hall, back in 1923.