The Studious Life

The Studious Life

For many university students the social life is as much a part of the learning process as the classroom. But for Mr Lee Jark-pui, being a student meant one thing: studying.

Mr Lee graduated with a Lee Jark-puiBA (Hons) in Economics in 1962 and eschewed the barn dances and most other social activities during his time at HKU for the warm wood of the Main Building’s rooms.

“I still remember the library,” he says, which at that time was located in the Main Building. “It was all wood – wooden chairs, wooden tables. I liked the atmosphere.”

“You can call me a bookworm with a vision. Everyone has to prepare for the next stage of life. So when you’re in university it’s a time you prepare yourself for getting into society. Of course you can make friends and then you have to build up your network for the future. You can study so that you can apply your knowledge or understand society better. You can fall in love so you can get married when you graduate. There are different choices, people have to make their choice.”

Mr Lee took the second route and applied his learning to enrich his contributions to society. He is Executive Director of Lippo Ltd and serves on numerous government committees and non-government organisations, such the Agency for Volunteer Service, the International Chamber of Commerce – Hong Kong, China, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, the government’s Social Welfare Advisory Committee, and the Legal Aid Services Council.

“Studying Political Science and Sociology made me more committed to working for universal values in life, like freedom, equality, that sort of thing,” he says. “That’s why I still do quite a bit of community work. In the process we hope to build up human dignity in our society.”

The seeds of that commitment were nurtured by his teachers such as Dr Edward Szczepanik, who wrote a textbook, The Economic Growth of Hong Kong, and later became the last Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile before handing over to Lech Walesa in 1990. Other memorable teachers included Dr S.S. Hsueh in Political Science, Ms Dorothy Kwan in Sociology and Professor E.S. Kirby in Economics.

The Studious Life

He remembers them for the quality of their teaching rather than their writings. “I think from one point of view a great teacher is one who really can bring the student forward along the road of knowledge. But these days you have some other value measurements, [that] because this person has written a great deal, therefore he must be a great teacher. To which I don’t subscribe.”

Mr Lee did allow for a little diversion from studying, albeit still related to scholarly pursuits: he was Librarian of the Economics Society and enjoyed attending its talks. But overall, he was relieved to be distanced from the sometimes intense social side of student life.

“I did not live in a hostel,” he says, “because of what we called the ragging of new students, which I disliked. When I heard of it I thought it was not good. Fortunately I lived very close to the University so I was exempted from living in halls.

“My main interest was to study, to learn and to equip myself to serve humanity when the time came. That’s it.”

JP Lee

Mr JP Lee graduated with a BA (1st Class Hons) in Economics and Political Science from the University of Hong Kong in 1962. He is currently an Executive Director of Lippo Limited, Chairman of the Agency for Volunteer Service, as well as Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce - Hong Kong, China. Mr Lee has been dedicated to public service in Hong Kong for over forty years. He is an unofficial Justice of the Peace and was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star by the Chief Executive, HKSAR,in 2006 and the OBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.