Honorary University Fellow (2019)
The Honourable Mr Ma Fung-kwok is a member of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR Government for the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication Constituency. From his cinematic journey to his policy advocacy, Mr Ma has striven throughout his career to bring about social and legislative change, both in Hong Kong and in Mainland China.
Born and raised in Hong Kong with two sisters and three brothers, Mr Ma pays fond tribute to his father, whom he describes as a “diligent gentlemen who set an example to serve our country”. Despite not being explicitly told by his father, Mr Ma believes his name eloquently embeds the nationalistic value of sharing the people’s breath and the fate of our motherland. It is certainly part of his father’s legacy that he inherited a passion for the student movement during his early schooldays.
After graduating in Civil Engineering from the Hong Kong Polytechnic, Mr Ma felt an early attraction to the movie industry. His career began in film distribution and promotion at Feng Huang (Phoenix) Motion Picture, which was a pioneer in the Chinese market in the late 1970s. His cinematic career went from strength to strength, and he became the Executive Director for Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd in the 1980s. Mr Ma was at the helm of a major genre evolution when the craze for Chinese martial arts films began. Shaolin Temple was among the first major co-productions of Hong Kong and Mainland China, and not only was it one of the few movies widely distributed through Mainland cinemas, but it also forged the worldwide popularity of mainstream Chinese kung-fu.
In search of the great lesson of “truth, goodness and beauty”, Mr Ma believes that films provide a framework of popular entertainment that can address social issues and influence social change through powerful drama. He particularly values The Story of Qiu Ju, which opened the world’s eyes to the primitive lives of ordinary people in everyday China, and I Have a Date with Spring, which depicts the lives of four women during the turbulence in Hong Kong in the late 1960s. These movies not only reveal authentic phenomena, but also connect audiences through empathy and promote humanity in an aesthetic form. In the words of Mr Ma, “I believe movies have a social mission to influence people’s heart.”
Over the past four decades, Mr Ma has witnessed the vast and far-reaching transformation of the Chinese cinema industry during the pre- and post-Revolution periods. Beyond the media marketplace, he is also an outspoken advocate of copyright protection, film censorship, the use of pyrotechnics and film archives in the motion picture industry. In 1986, Mr Ma became a founding member and Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association Limited (MPIA), which aims to promote and protect the rights and interests of stakeholders. In 1993, he led the launch of the first film registration and copyright authentication system, which was later adopted by the National Copyright Administration of China.
Mr Ma has a truly visionary belief that “you can be an extreme activist before the age of 30, but as you grow wiser, you must sustain a way to create a lasting contribution to the society”. After the 1997 handover, Mr Ma began to realise his ambition of creating an impact under another regime. He walked the talk and turned his hand to a political career. He has been instrumental in the exciting evolution of joint productions between Hong Kong and Mainland China through an agreement under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). The recent development of the Greater Bay Area also presents invaluable opportunities to Hong Kong’s creative industries in sports, performing arts, culture and publication to promote cooperation and strengthen investment and the exchange of talent between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
Over the years, Mr Ma’s contribution to Hong Kong’s creative hub is attested by his various positions. He was Chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (2004–2010), a member (2004) and Deputy Chairman (2005–2006) of the Council of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and Chairman of the Hong Kong Film Development Council (2013-19). He has served as a Director of the Travel Industry Council since 2009 and also a Director of the Hong Kong Sports Institute since 2015. He was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star in 2004.
From 2011 to 2016, Mr Ma was a member of the Council and Court of Hong Kong Baptist University and during the same period, was also a member of the Council’s Campus Development and Facilities Management Committee and Honorary University Fellowship Committee. He is currently an Honorary Consultant for the Academy of Film. Mr Ma has regularly shared his insights and experiences to nurture young talents in the disciplines of broadcasting, film and journalism. Appreciating HKBU’s unique philosophy of liberal arts education which cultivates innovation and creativity, Mr Ma believes the city’s vibrant opportunities allow HKBU students to experiment with different cooperative and visual techniques to continue invigorating the creativity of Hong Kong.
As a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, Mr Ma is a role model for our young generations on how to make an impact with passion and vision. It gives me great pleasure to present Mr Ma Fung-kwok for the award of an Honorary University Fellowship in recognition of his sustained contributions to the creative industries in Hong Kong and Mainland China, and to academia.