To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance …
These wise words from Ecclesiastes sum up our thoughts and feelings over the passing of artists, businessmen and scholars in our beloved city this year.
We are still seven weeks away from the end of the year, yet it is so sad that there seemed not a day last week when an obituary did not occupy the front pages of newspapers. Movie king Raymond Chow Man-wai, martial arts novelist and newspaper founder Louis Cha Leung-yong, movie star Elliot Ngok Wah and actress Yammie Lam Kit-ying: they now are all gone, but not without leaving us with fond memories of their incredible gift that made our lives a bit more meaningful, a bit more pleasant.
They lived in Hong Kong, where they realized their dreams, and contributed to making it the vibrant city that it is today. Not all of them had a smooth journey in life – none of us have – but they will stay in our minds for a long time.
It has been a sad year on the cultural front with the passing of Liu Yichang, considered the father of Hong Kong’s modern literature; Eunice Lam Yin-nei, the city’s “prodigal daughter” who fascinated us with her romance novels, a well-loved writer and socialite; and Jao Tsung-I, a revered Chinese sinologist, calligrapher, historian and painter.
We also remember Charles K. Kao, who gave our city the distinction of having a Nobel Prize laureate for a son after he won the prestigious award for physics for his pioneering work in the use of fibre optics in telecommunications. We should also credit him for maintaining throughout his life the scholastic integrity that we find so rare these days.
On the business front, we are sad to hear the passing of Coils Lam Wai-chun, chairman of CEC International that gave us the 759 Store with its delightful Japanese groceries and snacks, and Tang Hsiang-chien, Hong Kong’s pre-eminent first-generation industrialist and father to former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen.
We also remember Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, former chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties. His wife Wendy Kwok Lee Ting-wing and brother Raymond Kwok Ping-luen quoted the Ecclesiastes passage as they recalled the life of the man who brought first-class restaurants and homes to the city.
All these beautiful souls remind us that what matters more is not the length of our stay on earth, but what we do with our lives during our brief stay here.
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