Address by Mr. Rimsky YUEN, GBM, SC, JP


At the 44th Degree Ceremony of Hong Kong Shue Yan University, 29 November 2018

President, Provost, Deputy President, Professors, Students, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is an immense privilege for me to be given this opportunity to deliver this Address on behalf of Dr. CHUNG King Fai and myself. Both of us are deeply honoured for the conferment of honorary doctorate degrees on us by the Hong Kong Shue Yan University. We are also most grateful for the kind and generous citations.

Dr. CHUNG is a household name in Hong Kong, especially in the context of performing arts. There is no doubt that Dr. CHUNG deserves the conferment of honorary doctorate.

On my part, I feel particularly proud to be conferred honorary degree by this University. It is because this University has chartered a unique path in the education history of Hong Kong. As you would know, Shue Yan was founded by Dr. Henry HU and his wife Dr. CHUNG Chi Yung. The efforts made by both of them in building Shue Yan and in making it the first private university in Hong Kong as well as in nurturing the students throughout all these years is a shining example of selfless contribution to education and to the community of Hong Kong.

Apart from being grateful, I am humbled by this award of honorary degree. For me, the conferment of this honorary degree is a recognition of the critical role played by the law in our society, the importance of maintaining the rule of law, as well as the essential role played by the legal profession (in both the private and public sectors, including those in the Government).

As a result of various inter-related factors including globalization, advance of technology, geo-politics and social movements, many countries and cities in the world have been undergoing dramatic changes in recent years. Hong Kong is no exception. In the past decade or so, Hong Kong has experienced significant changes and faced daunting challenges. In short, our community has become more and more complex and one can tell with certainty that more changes and challenges are awaiting us.

Against this macro picture, Hong Kong definitely has to move forward and to remain competitive. To achieve this, a lot have to be done by the Government, the key players, the different sectors of the community and indeed every one of us. For the purpose of today, allow me to focus on two aspects, namely, law and education.

As our society changes, the law that governs our society should be critically reviewed so as to decide whether our law should move forward so as to cater for the ever-evolving needs of our society. Other relevant considerations aside, the advance of technology is one of the most important factors that we can ill afford to ignore. The reason is obvious. Advance of technology has brought about fundamental changes to almost all aspects of our life and to our society as a whole, and also at a speed which is much quicker than anyone have in the past expected.

Many societies including Hong Kong are placing increasing emphasis to the development of science and technology. That must be correct. Equally important, if I may be allowed to emphasis, is to ensure that our law can keep in pace with technological development. One of the examples is the use of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is often mentioned in the context of the financial industry. However, the use of blockchain technology and its importance surely goes beyond the financial industry and is likely to have extensive impact on a wide range of human activities. Another example is the use of artificial intelligence, especially together with Big Data as well as the Internet of Things.

Questions of how the law of our society can keep in pace with these developments, as well as how Hong Kong can stay in the forefront of these developments at the international level are important questions that our community has to give serious consideration.

Unless we have talents, we cannot ensure progressive development in our society. Education is singularly important in ensuring that our society would have sufficient talents. In this regard, allow me to quote an observation by the late Professor Stephen Hawking in his book “Brief Answers to the Big Questions”, where he said (at p. 201):

“The human mind is an incredible thing. … … Yet for each mind to achieve its full potential, it needs a spark. The spark of enquiry and wonder. Often that spark comes from a teacher. … … If you look behind every exceptional person there is an exceptional teacher. When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are we can do it because of a teacher.” [Stephen HAWKING, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, (John Murray (Publishers), 2018]

I am convinced that if we can continue to make our legal system works in a fair and efficient manner, if we can continue to adhere to both the spirit and the substance of the rule of law, and if we can provide good education to our future generations (both within and outside schools), Hong Kong would remain a place where all of us would be proud to call it our home.

Before I conclude, allow me to again quote from Professor HAWKING’s book (at p. 211): “… … however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.”

On this note, it remains for me to express our gratitude again to the Hong Kong Shue Yan University and to wish you all every success in your future endeavours. Thank you!

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