Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa (2011)
Dr the Honourable Lee Shau Kee, GBM, founder of Henderson Land Development Company Limited, is a highly respected figure in the Greater China Region, well-known for his prominent business leadership and acumen, and much-admired for his generous and visionary philanthropy. For over half a century, he has made significant contributions to the territory’s economic prosperity and has helped place the city firmly in the international arena as the home of world-class entrepreneurs.
Dr Lee was born in Shunde City in the Guangdong Province in 1929, playing his part in the family goldsmith and money exchange business from an early age. He came to Hong Kong in his late teens and worked in a variety of businesses before venturing into the property market in 1958. In partnership with Mr Fung King Hey and Mr Kwok Tak Seng, Dr Lee established Sun Hung Kai Enterprises Limited Company in 1963 and has remained the dominant force in property development ever since. In 1973, he founded Henderson Development Limited and his unrivalled business intuition and entrepreneurial skills ensured its substantial expansion throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. Indeed, Dr Lee’s investment in mainland China in the 1980s was well ahead of many of his competitors, and as a consequence he has consolidated his position as one of the foremost real estate tycoons in the Greater China Region today. Employing approximately 8,000 full time staff, Henderson Land Group currently has the largest holding of agricultural land reserve among all Hong Kong property developers. It has asserted itself as one of the territory’s signature enterprises.
Aside from property development, Dr Lee’s diversified business portfolio covers hotels, tourism, public utilities, and health care. Dr Lee has what the writers of antiquity called “the Midas touch”—an endowed ability to turn anything he touches into gold. As a consequence of his entrepreneurial gifts, a number of colloquial sobriquets have been bestowed upon him, including “Hong Kong’s Warren Buffett” and the “Asian God of Stocks”. But in a good and great man, wealth comes with responsibility and conscience. Dr Lee is well respected in the community as a visionary philanthropist and a most generous benefactor. He views education as an investment which can yield far-reaching and immeasurable returns.
In 1977, Dr Lee rendered his support to The Chinese University of Hong Kong in establishing the MBA programme, the first of its kind in the territory, which aimed at nurturing the business leaders of tomorrow. He also set up the annual Lee Shau Kee Scholarship in 1979 to sponsor top Hong Kong students to pursue undergraduate studies at Oxford University. For decades, the Lee Shau Kee Foundation has been offering scholarships and direct donations to schools and universities in Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas countries. In Hong Kong alone, Dr Lee has pledged considerable donations to all of the nine universities. As of to-date, Dr Lee has contributed billions of dollars to education institutions around the world.
Dr Lee’s philanthropic contributions in the Mainland are equally substantial. Together with some close friends, he founded Pei Hua Education Foundation in 1982 with the aim to develop and nurture talented individuals in mainland China. In the past 29 years, the Foundation has subsidized and organized more than 500 training programmes, benefitting over 17,000 talented individuals the in Mainland. In 2006, Dr Lee donated RMB330 million to initiate the “Warmth Project Lee Shau Kee Foundation Million Farmers & Ten Thousand Village Doctors Training Program” with the aim to provide vocational training to rural farmers to help them earn a living. As a result, three million people, including the farmers’ family members, were benefited from the programme. These worthy causes have made possible remarkable and enduring changes, and Dr Lee’s philanthropic spirit sets him aside as a man of remarkable humanity.
Dr Lee’s outstanding entrepreneurship and staunch commitment to education has earned him a string of accolades, including numerous honorary doctorates and honorary fellowships conferred by prestigious local and overseas universities. In recognition of his lifelong devotion to education and his contribution to the community, the HKSAR Government awarded Dr Lee its highest honour, the Grand Bauhinia Medal, in 2007. In 2008, Dr Lee was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree by the Fudan University, an Honorary Trustee and a Strategic Advisor by the Tsinghua University, and an Honorary Director by the Peking University. Dr Lee’s achievement is unprecedented as this was the first time the three top mainland universities presented honors to one person concertedly.
Hong Kong Baptist University has also benefitted from Dr Lee’s generous support since 1983, when he contributed to the University’s Building Fund. In 1993, he helped shoulder the costs of the construction of the David C Lam Building; and in 2005 donated $5 million through the Lee Shau Kee Foundation to support the University’s development, including the territory’s first Academy of Visual Arts. In 2008, the University received a further gift of $20 million from the Lee Shau Kee Foundation. Half of this sum is designated for the setting up of the Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies, a centre which promotes scholarly exchanges and conducts high-level research in various disciplines related to China. The other half is to be used to support the University’s endeavours to internationalize its activities.
Mr. Chairman, in recognition of Dr Lee’s outstanding entrepreneurship, philanthropy, devotion to education and social initiatives, and longstanding support for the development of Hong Kong Baptist University, may I present to you Dr the Honourable Lee Shau Kee for the award of the degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa.