The Thirty-Fifth Graduation Ceremony Citation
Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa Dr. TIN Ka Ping


Citation written and delivered by Professor Sun Tien Lun

Mr. President,

It is my greatest honour and privilege to present to you, Dr. Tin Ka Ping, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Social Science, honoris causa. Today also marks Dr. Tin’s 90th birthday, and on behalf of everyone here, may I wish Dr. Tin a very happy birthday.

35G_Mr Tin2

Dr. Tin is popularly known as the “King of Synthetic Leather”, and is the founder of Tin’s Chemical Corporation. Yet, Dr. Ting’s most passionate pursuit in life is not success as an industrialist, but rather a career in philanthropy. He often appeals to others “to view philanthropic work in the community as lasting and magnificent careers”. In particular, he has shown profound concern for the development of education in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Thus far, he has donated funds to 39 teachers’ colleges, 53 comprehensive universities, 166 secondary schools, 40 primary school and 1350 libraries situated in schools in rural areas in China. The total amount of his donation has well exceeded HKD1 billion. Dr. Tin’s philanthropic work has been widely recognized and acknowledged: In 1982, he was awarded the Medal of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II; in 1988, he was presented with an inscribed golden plaque by the highest authority in Taiwan recognizing his support for charities; in 1993, the International Asteroid Centre named Asteroid 2886 (discovered by the Zijin Shan Observatory in Nanjing) after him; in 1996, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him as Member of the Order of the British Empire; and in 2006, he was presented with the “Chinese Outstanding Charitable Enterprise Award” by the Beijing China Charity Association. In addition, Dr. Tin has been named Honourable Citizen in over eighty cities and prefectures in China, and has received honorary appointments as professor in scores of Chinese universities. Honorary degrees and fellowships have also been conferred upon Dr. Tin by over a dozen universities in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Born in 1909, Dr. Tin is now ninety years old. He lost his father in early adolescence, and from thereon, he had to shoulder the responsibility of caring for his family. In 1937, he emigrated to Vietnam, and set up the Chayang Porcelain Factory, marketing china clay. Within a short period of time, his business thrived and achieved quantum growth. Unfortunately, with the occupation of Shantou by the Japanese, the supply of china clay was cut off, and Dr. Tin was forced to give up his business and seek refuge with his brother in Indonesia. Within twenty years, his enterprising and pioneering spirit enabled him to establish a highly successful business in the rubber industry, and from there, he set up the first plastics enterprise in Indonesia. In 1958, with the upsurge in anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia, Dr. Tin decided to close down his business enterprises and move to Hong Kong. Two years later, he built the 30,000 square meter Tin’s Chemical Industrial Estate on reclaimed land in Tuen Mun. Later, he added another plant in Ping Shan, Yuen Long, thereby consolidating his position of leadership in the synthetic leather industry.

Dr. Tin’s astounding success as an industrialist may be attributed to his indomitable spirit, unique vision, and uncommon daring. Nevertheless, he has gained even more respect from others for his considerateness, assiduousness, and simple way of life. He maintains a harmonious relationship with his employees, is unpretentious in his ways, and likes to attend to matters personally. In this, he is an exemplar of the classical Confucian gentleman, practising benevolence and respecting righteousness. In his business dealings, he places reputation and clients’ benefit foremost, and upholds integrity at all times. Hence, his enterprise has enjoyed stable growth, and he has successfully built a business empire based on sound foundations.

In 1982, Dr. Tin established the K.P. Tin Foundation. This charitable non-profit organization is dedicated to bettering the welfare of the community, and is funded solely by Dr. Tin and his family business. Of the many stories surrounding Dr. Tin’s philanthropic endeavours, perhaps the most endearing is the sale of his 37-year old home in 2001. That year, following the economic downturn, Dr. Tin, like many other businessmen, had suffered a substantial loss of income. Therefore, to make good his promise to help build schools in China, he sold his home for HK5.6m, and put the funds into the Foundation to build 20 secondary schools in China. From owning an 80 square meter home after his arrival from Indonesia, to owning a 700 square meter home in 1965, to renting a 130 square meter apartment in 2001, Dr. Tin literally removed himself from the class of “haves” to the class of “have-nots”. Although his friends and relatives were extremely worried about this change in his status, Dr. Tin took things in his stride, because he firmly believed in the Chinese motto: “What you take from your community ought to be used on the community”. Furthermore, he has adamantly followed the Chinese adage that “Accumulating virtue for the coming generations is better than passing your fortune to your descendants”. In 2007, Dr. Tin responded to the Hong Kong government’s matched-fund donation scheme, and voluntarily made donations to the universities in Hong Kong. Shue Yan University is one of the beneficiaries of his benevolence.

Dr. Tin is a self-made man, his remarkable achievement is the culmination of innumerable pieces of hard work. His way of life and his personal conduct provide a model for us all to emulate. Dr. Tin may not be the wealthiest person in Hong Kong, and he may not be the top philanthropist with respect to the amount of funds donated, but he has certainly donated the highest proportion of his estate to charity. As a result of his selfless contribution, the conditions in many educational establishments have improved substantially, and thousands of students who would otherwise have been denied the opportunity, have gained entrance into the portals of formal education. In this, Dr. Tin’s lifework runs parallel to Shue Yan University’s ethos of cultivating benevolence.

Mr. President, in recognition of Dr. Tin’s lifework, may I call upon you to confer on him the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa.

From: December Issue 2009

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