Hong Kong Histories
Luckless Lai Man-wai (1893-1953) ???
At Lai Man-wai’s funeral in 1953, a big banner hung above his coffin which read: Father of Hong Kong Cinema. Who was this man? How did he become so famous?
Sir Matthew Nathan (1862-1939)
Have you ever walked along Nathan Road in Kowloon? Did you marvel at its long stretch of colourful neon lights? If so, you have Sir Matthew to thank. That’s because when he became the thirteenth Hong Kong governor in 1906, Kowloon was still a swampy backwater, dark and dangerous at nights, and a criminals’ refuge.
Saintly Sister Aquinas (1919-1985)
These days, many Hong Kong people worry about catching bird flu. Eighty years ago, people worried about contracting tuberculosis. But if they coughed up blood, they could be treated and possibly cured at the Ruttonjee Sanatorium, where, upon admission, they would almost certainly have had the pleasure of meeting the Mother Teresa of Hong Kong: Sister Aquinas. Loving and kind, meek and unassuming, she spent her life helping people recover from this deadly disease.
Amazing Alice Little (1845-1926)
Amazing Alice was little in caution and big on dreams. What did she spend much of her life doing? Trying to persuade people that the Chinese tradition of foot binding was a cruel and ugly practice. That’s because middle and upper class Han Chinese girls living up until around a hundred years ago would almost certainly have had their feet broken as children.
Sir Patrick Manson (1844-1922)
Sir Patrick was a parasitologist. What’s that, you may ask? It’s someone who studies parasites, those pesky organisms that feed on others, like tapeworms, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
Cunning Cheung Po Tsai (1786-1822) ???
Don’t believe all pirates were jolly men who swung from masts and danced jigs. In nineteenth century Hong Kong many pirates were scavengers, kidnappers and murderers. They threatened fishermen, stole food from local villagers and raided merchant ships to demand protection money. Cheung Po Tsai was the leader of the most powerful gang of pirates of them all – the Red Banner fleet. He controlled hundreds of ships and 17,000 men. Rumour has it that the famous cave you can visit on Cheung Chau used to be stuffed with his treasure.
Generous Jehangir Ruttonjee (1880-1960)
The most generous philanthropist in early twentieth century Hong Kong was an Indian immigrant called Jehangir Ruttonjee. The results of his generosity and industry can still be seen in contemporary Hong Kong: the Ruttonjee Centre in Central, Ruttonjee Hospital, Grantham Hospital and the Sing Tao Brewery, originally in Sham Tseng but now in Yuen Long.
Aw Boon Haw (1882-1954) ???
Aw Boon Par (1884-1944) ???
Has anyone told you how much they appreciateTiger Balm? It’s an ointment that relaxes muscles and nerves. You can pop it in your pocket for easy use. I’m sure you’ve smelt its distinctive smell somewhere.
Loaded Loke Yew (1846-1917) ??
I wonder how many of you are hoping to study at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) one day. If you do, you’ll probably notice that the hall of the university’s main building is called “Loke Yew Hall”. Interestingly, businessman Loke Yew, whom the hall is named after, had no education himself. In fact he was born into a peasant family in Guangdong and orphaned at a very early age. From 1858, when he arrived in Singapore as a “free immigrant”, he worked in a shop for four years.
The Successful Sassoon Family
Imagine feeling unwelcome in your home country because of your religious beliefs. That’s what happened to many Jewish people, including members of the Sassoon family, who moved from Iraq to India and Asia to escape persecution.