Dr Lee Shau Kee, tycoon and philanthropist, is
a towering figure in property development in Hong Kong and, indeed,
in the region as a whole. His tremendous success marks him out,
but it is his modesty, generosity and commitment to work and family
which leave an impression. Dr Lee has a reputation for working long
hours, keeping a low profile with his family, and plowing his wealth
back into education and charitable groups, especially in his hometown
of Shunde, Guangdong.
Dr Lee approaches his work with the intensity of
someone who has not been given his success on a plate, but has had
to construct it brick by brick. He arrived in Hong Kong in 1948,
to build his fortune with less than a thousand dollars in his pocket.
He worked in a variety of businesses — gold,
money exchange, hardware and import-export —
before setting up Eternal Enterprise Company with several other
investors in 1958, which marked the beginning of his self-made real
estate legend. In 1963, he co-founded Sun Hung Kai with Messrs Kwok
Tek Seng and Fung King Hey. In 1973, Dr Lee founded Henderson Land
Development Co Ltd and focused on the property business. Ever since,
he has combined his razor-sharp business acumen with a strong work
ethic and become one of the richest people in the world.
Known for working 12-hour days, Dr Lee is keen
to participate in any property deal that comes his way, and coined
the motto "never waste an inch" in reference to his insistence
on making the most of all usable space. He also pursued the idea
of never wasting a minute, developing a reputation for closing deals
in record time. But of course, it is his uncanny ability to see
value in the deals he pursues that has been the foundation of his
success. Many have tried to follow in his footsteps, but the golden
touch has eluded them. Dr Lee has it in abundance.
The Chairman and Managing Director of Henderson
Land Development Co Ltd since 1976, Dr Lee is also the Chairman
of Henderson Investment Ltd and Henderson Cyber Ltd, the Director
of Henderson China Holdings Ltd, the Chairman of The Hong Kong and
China Gas Co Ltd and Miramar Hotel and Investment Co Ltd, and the
Vice-Chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. He is the Director
of the Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings) Co Ltd and The Bank of East Asia,
While building up his business empire, Dr Lee has
never forgotten his roots. His extended family is closely involved
in his businesses and his children are being groomed to take over
Ever the filial son, Dr Lee has extended his good fortune not only
to his family, but to his native home of Shunde and elsewhere in
China, generously endowing schools, hospitals and sports centers.
He has been made an Honorary Citizen of Shunde, Guangzhou, Foshan
and Beijing in recognition of these contributions.
Education has been a particular focus of his philanthropy.
He set up Pei Hua Education Foundation in 1982 with friends, and
has been the Chairman and Governor of the Board of Trustees since
then. The foundation has played a significant role in promoting
professional education in China.
And as for Hong Kong where he built his reputation,
Dr Lee has given generously of his time and money. In the education
field, he has established scholarships at Wadham College, Oxford
University, to enable outstanding students from Hong Kong to study
there, and he endowed the Yale-Chinese University Program for Chinese
Studies to promote greater understanding of Southern China. He also
lent his wisdom at the time of Hong Kong's handover, as a Hong Kong
Affairs Advisor and a member of the Preparatory Committee for the
Hong Kong SAR, as well as the First Selection Committee of the Hong
Kong SAR Government.
For someone who would prefer to lie low and keep
a modest appearance — fashioned with the help
of an inexpensive barber and tailor — Dr Lee
has inevitably attracted attention and become a household name through
his many achievements. He has accumulated a long list of honors
— Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford,
and of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Honorary Doctorates
from the University of East Asia, Macau, the Chinese University
of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University
of Hong Kong — to which this University now adds
its name. Dr Lee has made significant contributions to the economic
development of Hong Kong and China, and his legacy will continue
to have a wide-reaching impact around the world.
Mr Pro-Chancellor, I have the honor to present
to you, on behalf of the University, Dr Lee Shau Kee, global business
leader, real property baron and philanthropist, for the degree of
Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa.